Perhaps this is an assumption, but I thought women were the ones who picked out baby names in high school (or earlier) while men generally didn’t think about their future children’s names until these children were imminent.
Therefore, I was mildly surprised and amused when my friend told me her husband had picked out his future son’s name in high school.
It was not meant to be.
Not because the couple never had a son, but because when my friend was pregnant with their son, and they saw his face for the first time in the 3D ultrasound, they both declared,
“He doesn’t look like a Damien.”
This got me thinking.
What is a Damien supposed to look like? What is any given name supposed to look like?
I don’t have many preconceived notions of what a name should look like, but I suspect I may be in the minority.
There are some exceptions. My preconceived notions are:
Ingrid’s are always very light Caucasian girls with light hair that’s either blonde or light brown.
Matteo works on boys of almost any race, but only on dark-haired guys. Blonde guys cannot pull off Matteo.
Thelonious, a wonderfully unusual name made familiar by Jazz musician Thelonious Monk, is difficult to imagine on Caucasian or Asian guys.
And that’s all I can think of. There are probably others, but I have a hard time coming up with them.
I can think of names that might work well for certain physical characteristics, but that doesn’t mean I feel these names are limited to people with those physical characteristics. For example:
Oliver and Simon look good on blonde guys, but can also work on guys with other hair colors.
Felicity, Gabrielle, Greta, and Georgia look good on red-haired girls, but can also work on girls with other hair colors. For some reason, I feel G names work well on redheaded people.
Holly works well on people with freckles. (Most of the Holly’s I’ve known have had freckles.) But girls without freckles can also be Holly.
Names with the long-o sound, such as Simone and Iona look good on multi-cultural or mixed race girls, but can work on other girls too.
In most cases, I have no rational for my impressions of certain names. For the life of me, I cannot explain why I believe Oliver and Simon look good on blondes.
This may explain why I have easily dropped old preconceived notions. In some cases I had impressions of names that went away once I met someone who didn’t fit my mold. For example:
I could only picture Nina on dark-haired girls until I met a blonde Nina in my daughter’s class. Now Nina seems imaginable on girls with any hair color.
And since an unborn child’s identity–both physical and personal–are unknown, isn’t dropping our preconceived notions not only reasonable, but also freeing?
Most parents rely on guesswork to decide what their unborn child will look like, and everyone grows into their names. Only one real-life example of someone who doesn’t fit my mold was enough for me to drop my preconceived notions.
However, I admit, picturing names on certain people can be a fun exercise.
In the name of fun, this name game challenge is to pick names for the following fictional people. I’m not writing a fiction book or anything like that; I’m simply curious to see how my readers view different names. What names would you pick for these characters?
You can answer in the comments or contact me from my contact page.
Character A: Is a woman in her 30s who works in finance. She is a thrill seeker who likes mountain climbing, and hang gliding. She is reasonably attractive and athletic with medium brown hair. Her one vice is high-end craft beer.
Character B: Is a red-haired guy. He plays a bass in a punk band and is in his late-20’s. However, he looks and acts like he is in his early- 20’s. He is short but athletic and charismatic, with perfect teeth and a great smile, but he never smiles while performing.
Character C: Is a girl who is around seven years old. She has incredibly long straight blonde hair that reaches her waist and loves ponies and gymnastics. She is goofy and loves to tell jokes. She is smart, but gets restless at school.
Character D: Is a dark curly-haired toddler boy. He just turned two and is very rambunctious. He loves legos, playing in the sand and keeping busy. He is also a mama’s boy who likes to be carried around by Mom.
Readers: What names would you give these characters?