Perhaps Phoebe’s on to something…
Long before we decided to become parents, the boy and I talked about names for our children. We figured we should be in agreement before the actual event, so as not to leave our future kid in a nameless purgatory. However, previous discussions found us unable to come up with anything mutually inoffensive.
It is Portuguese custom to name children after relatives (living or dead), and early on I suspected that if we were to have a boy, he would want his son to bear the name of his deceased brother. Far be it from me to be the bitch who denies such a poignant request (more like declaration, but whatevs), I have agreed to this, with a few stipulations. Since I am not Portuguese, and would like my baby to have a first name that my Bajan relatives could say without butchering, we would have to give the boy a relatively Anglo (or at the very least, pronounceable) first name.
“He could have his own first name, and your brother’s names as the middle ones,” I offered. The boy seemed okay with that, pointing out that we still had to come up with a first name. “I like the name Sonny,” he said, tentatively.
I tilted my head to one side, rolling the name around in my head. It worked with both of our last names. It worked with the middle names. It seemed suitable for a small child and a grown man. Sonny. It wasn’t bad. I didn’t hate it…but it sounded more like a nickname than full name. Like it belonged to some kid who played football. It didn’t sound professional.
“Can it be short for Santo or Santino?” I asked, thinking of what it would look like on a resume. He shook his head no.
“Nope. Just Sonny.” I knew he wasn’t going to budge, so I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“Okay, you get to name our little boy, if I get to pick a little girl’s name,” I said. He nodded his approval, and held out his pinky for me to swear on.
He liked my suggestion of Farrah, but his last name starts with R and I didn’t like the hard Rrr-Rrr sound the two names made together. We both liked Summer, but, I pointed out, if we had a boy and a girl, our kids would be Summer and Sonny. A little to hippy for my liking. We both really liked Sadie, I just wasn’t completely sold. I was partial to Olivia, but I already have a cousin with that name. It’s also the name of his best friend’s baby girl.
The area of Scarborough I live in is home to many Muslims, and one name I have always thought was pretty and feminine without being too cutesy (or pole-dancer-ish) is Aisha. I pronounce it “EYE-sha” with the emphasis on the first syllable like my brown friends do, and not “eye-EE-sha” the way actress Aisha Tyler does. I suggested it, and he made a face. I reminded him about our pinky swear.
“I don’t hate it,” he said, “I’m just not familiar with it. How is it spelled?” I spelled it for him. He had trouble reconciling the fact that it started with an “A” but sounded like it should start with an “I.” I shook my head and explained that to spell it “I-S-H-A” made it read more like “issue” than “Eye-sha.”
“Whatever, you’re the writer,” he said and shrugged.
To honour my mother and the fact that this would be her first grandchild, I said I wanted her middle name, Yvonne, as the potential second name. Nodding, again, he said he liked the way it flowed, even if he couldn’t spell or pronounce either one. 😀 I considered it a fait accompli.
I smiled and extended my baby finger. He linked his with mine, and the deal was sealed.