Before either of us thought to discuss whether we were or were not sharing our shortlist of names for Blob/Blobette, one of us had let slip our thoughts on a potential boy’s name to someone close.
The reaction was rather predictable – there was a lot of diplomatic mmms and aaahs before we were cautioned to think about how the poor child was going to be teased at school. To which Tony pointed out that Kids Are Cruel, and they will find a means anyway. Even if you have the safest name on the planet.
Case in point: Tony was called Tony Bony.
I was called Jingle Bells. Then Jungle Bells. Then Liu Lian (which means Durian in Mandarin, because it rhymes with my Chinese name.) My mother’s friend kept addressing me as Shiver in her Christmas cards. Then my Chinese-educated secondary school math teacher completely butchered my name, so I became Chook-veal.
Chinese names are especially easy to tease the dickens out of, because you can play with different inflections in each syllable and come up with a totally unflattering result. I went to primary school with Qing Hua (which sounds like Frog), and Xian Cai (which sounds like Salted Vegetables).
And then there are Asian parents who are just plain quirky. Like the one who called her daughter Rose. Last name: Pok. Or a guy I used to date, who claimed he wanted to name his future daughter Earth. Last name: Ling.
There was a lecturer in Singapore Polytechnic named Dr Atomic Leow, I kid you not. Children’s names were rumoured to be Hydrogen and Nitrogen. There were apparently triplets in my alma mater named Million, Billion and Trillion, and I went to school with twins Eileen and Aileen.
And you have to be so, so careful with exotic names that could mean something completely dodgy in another language. For instance, Gila is a beautiful Hebrew girl’s name that means Joy. Gila in Malay describes one who is stark, raving mad.
Of course, we all remember the day that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban announced their firstborn’s name as Sunday Rose. And the rest of Australia snickered about Sunday Roast behind their glamourous, sparkly backs.
Actually, Australians are slightly different in this respect – they tend to either shorten names as far as possible (Anthony to Tone), or lengthen them with an O (Dave-O, Jonno). It’s all about affection, really. At the end of the day, playing with a name is the branding of a friendship. You’re mine now, because I have a special name for you. Chevy Chev Chev. Hibbsy-O. It’s cute, but it drives some parents crazy.
We don’t want to give Blobette a name she would ultimately hate. I’ve met a person who’s legally changed her name four times, and kept wondering how miffed and insulted her parents must be. And yet, the Chinese in me refuses to give a name that is common and pedestrian. And Tony feels the same way.
Our criteria at this point: Unique, but not wankery.
So stay tuned… the quest for the most fitting name continues.