I was born during the Truman administration, a time when all parents named their children Michael or Dave or Linda or Cathy and they didn't need a stupid book or Web site to do it. I took this for granted as a kid, but I've come to appreciate it later in life. Here in Wichita, every male I meet who's within a few years of my age is also named Dave, and those who aren't are named Randy. Needless to say, within this circle I don't forget names very often.
I have a harder time remembering the names of the kids born to my various nieces and nephews over the last decade or so. In fact, I can't quite bring them all to mind. There is a Telmar, and a Shiloh and a Gabe and, I think, a Tiell. There is also an Aiden, although it may be spelled differently than that. Aiden, at least, will probably run into a few folks with the same name over the course of his life. According to this piece in the Wichita Eagle, Aiden has emerged as one of the most favorite baby names in Kansas. It's right up there with the other top boys' names, Brayden, Jayden and Caden. For some reason, variations like Fraiden, Gayden, Maiden and Bin Laden aren't on the list.
For girls, we have Addison and Madison, Kaylee and Hailey. Also the occasional Emma and Olivia, but it seems most new parents in Kansas favor names aimed toward a lucrative career in cheerleading.
The curmudgeonly thing to do would be to complain about this trend of christening kids with random collections of syllables, or with names that rhyme with random collections of syllables. But I'm not going to do that. Parents have a right to name their kids whatever they want, without regard to how it will elicit snickers somewhere down the line. Parents have the right to discard the venerable names of the saints, the ones used by IT guys and carpenters and math teachers and truck drivers the world over. Dave's been a good enough name for me, but far be it from me to foist it on Jayden and Caden, or little Addison -- who's perfectly happy to be named after a disease.
Thing is, it's a competitive world out there. The best way to make your kid stand out is to give him a name no one's sure how to spell. Every time he corrects somebody he's going to get noticed. Maybe that'll take off some of the pressure to actually perform.
No, my only concern is the beleaguered souvenir sellers, the mom and pop shops unable to unload their huge inventory of coffee mugs and key chains and miniature license plates pre-stamped with names that used to be common. Once in awhile a Pete or Denise or Hank or Betty will wander in, but those people are dying like flies. I suppose it's too late for the souvenir industry to ask for a bailout. But they should anyway.