Tag Archives: Friendship

What’s Your “Almost” Name?

A close friend just had her big baby boy (over 9 lbs!) last night. I am so excited, of course, for her and her family. But I’m also dying to know The Name. I love when friends either don’t know or don’t share a name, because of the anticipation and then the joyous announcement. Our son didn’t have a name until they forced us to pick one when they kicked us out of the hospital. We had a few top choices, but I wanted to see him and pick the name that “fit” him. Well, he looked like a grumpy old man. Luckily, we decided to give him a name that we loved, a name that symbolized who I wanted him to be, rather than naming him a name that would fit a grumpy old man.

The name game is a huge part of any pregnancy. Hell, it’s a huge part of any girl’s life. Very few of us girls didn’t spend time playing dress up and trying on different personas and names, or naming our dolls, or later, naming our children with our first boyfriends. (For the record, I was always Brittany Maddox, my Barbies were always Lindsay or Charlotte or Samantha, my Cabbage Patch kid was Franny Kay, and my children were going to be named Skye Paige and Jordan Michael). But once you get pregnant, the name game takes on a heightened urgency. Now’s your chance, to get out those lists and name books and bestow upon your child the perfect name, the name you always wanted, the name that will complete this picture of this child you’ve been imagining for ten months.

But then. The impending importance dampens the fun somewhat. I can’t really name my child West or Wilder, can I? What kind of a child am I creating here, a poet or a baseball player or a future Supreme Court Justice? We want a name that isn’t ugly or trendy, that isn’t too popular nor too “out there,” a name that people hear and think, now that’s a perfect name. We read Nameberry and pore over the social security lists and family trees and think of our favorite books and musicians and Things That Mean Something To Us.

I have a friend, let’s call her Stephanie, that tells the story of how she named her daughter. Stephanie was down to two names, Celine and Sophie. Her friend said, “Call her to the phone. I need to hear them out loud.” So Stephanie says, “Soooophie, phone!” The friend said, “Could be fat. Next?” Stephanie then called, “Celiiine, phone!” Her friend: “Most popular girl in school. Done.” Even though we know this is silly (and that Sophies are far from fat!), it’s what we do. And yes, she named her daughter Celine.

But really, in the end, does it matter? The difference between a Brooks and a Jake, or a Caden or an Aiden is negligible. I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow has an unwieldy and dorky name and look at her. It didn’t hold her back or turn her into a sickly child that is relegated to her bed, sadly staring out the window at the other children playing outside, her long once-blonde hair wrapped in a braid round and round the crown of her head. (For some reason, this is what I think of when I hear the name “Gwyneth.”) According to the smart guys that wrote Freakonomics, names don’t matter all that much or dictate how successful you might become.

Still. I’m reminded of a hysterical conversation a close friend and I had once. By hysterical I mean that we had too much wine, and therefore we found this conversation hysterical. I’m pretty sure if you’d been sitting next to us, you would have been rolling your eyes at us, the giggling drunk girls in the corner. No matter. This girl and I are kindred spirits. Both lawyers, both avid readers, both writers. We share a love for the written word, sarcasm, fantastic shoes, and happy hours. We have the ability to watch someone enter a room, look at each other, and come to the exact same conclusion without saying a word. Needless to say, we found each other in law school pretty quickly, two girls who desperately needed someone else that understood the importance of the latest episode of Friends  and The O.C. (yes, both were still on, thank you very much), read Vogue and The New Yorker regularly, knew the difference between a Choo and a Louboutin, and still wanted to read books by Atwood and Roth and Eugenides. Have you met many law students? The fact that even one existed was a huge miracle.

So you’d think, no matter our names, we’d be friends, right? Hmmm. I’m not so sure. So the silly conversation centered on our “almost” names. You know, the names that your parents considered bestowing on you but decided not to. Mine was Julie. Hers was Miranda. We shared these names, and in the exact same instant said, “Oh, Julie would NEVER be friends with Miranda. And Miranda would HATE Julie!”

We knew instantly that Julie would have been a superficial, narrow-minded cheerleader, a girl that never wanted to leave Texas and wouldn’t read anything BUT US Weekly. (We read US Weekly, yes, but we also read the newspapers. It’s a balance thing). Julie would tolerate Miranda, but would find her too serious and boring.

Miranda would have despised Julie for her popularity and easy way in life, for the way she didn’t question anything and could be friends with people that said stupid things. Miranda would never read US Weekly and would probably only read novels by dead French or Russian men. Miranda would get out of Texas the first chance she got and would never ever twirl her hair for a boy.

Of course, this is silly and we are who we are. But I think we touched on something. Those versions of Julie and Miranda are facets of who we actually are, a version of ourselves that could have been. There are elements of Julie and Miranda in me, as in my friend. What we sussed out were those extreme elements, those parts of us that we are afraid might have taken over our lives.

Whether or not actually naming me Julie and her Miranda would have led us in different directions, of course who knows. But I’m glad I’m not Julie. I’m glad she’s not Miranda. I’m glad that we have both of us in there, that we can understand the fun of a little low brow culture, and also recognize the importance of  expanding your mind and having different experiences. I’m glad I found her in law school, that she and I got kicked out of a Bible study for asking if we could bring wine, and that we also started the best book club I’ve ever been part of.

What is in a name? Who knows? But have you ever wondered if you’d be a different person if you had a different name? What was your “almost” name? Would you change your name if you could?

For the record, I love my name and am very glad that my parents picked it. Now my middle name, that’s a different story.


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What Kind of Bachelor Girl Would You Be?

I’m fascinated by The Bachelor. Even for smart, well-read girls who know better, there is something captivating about this show. Part cat fight, part romantic comedy, part train wreck, it’s ridiculous, but it’s never boring.

I admit I mostly watch it for the stupidity. The things these girls and guys say are GENIUS. And crazy. Reading the re-caps the next day is often even better than the actual show. I have forced myself to suffer through many a terrible episode, simply because I want to be able to laugh through the recap.  (My favorite recap here– speaking of which, how does one get THAT job? Being paid to watch crap TV and then write a snarky post about it? Sign me up.)

But of course, there is a part of me that wants it to work out, that wants the guy to pick the RIGHT girl or the girl to pick the RIGHT guy. Even though I know better, it’s still a tv show, and I do like a happy ending.

So I was watching the most recent version. And the girls were all crying, except for Michelle, the crazy one. And I got to thinking. What kind of Bachelor Girl would I be? Because this is a TV show, which means the writers and producers make you a type. And you have to have a “character” on the show. And in this particular show, you have to either be a total psycho or totally comfortable and willing to a) fight for a guy with twenty other women, and b) make out in front of tons of people. For those reasons alone, I don’t think I would even get on the show.

But let’s say you make it on the show. And you know all of this. You know half those girls have watched previous seasons and think “Oh, I’d never act like that.” But they all do. Does the house itself make the girls crazy? Do they put something in their drinks? Are they hypnotized upon arrival, to suddenly be crazy in love with some dud of a guy? Because really? Brad? Get a group of ten of my best girlfriends together, meet this guy at a bar, and I promise you, none of us would be crying and chasing after him and begging him to make babies with us.

And it’s clear that there are girls who don’t, in fact, feel a “connection” with the Bachelor. There are girls who would go on a date with him and think, he’s a nice guy, but maybe he has too many muscles and just isn’t for me. And she would either politely decline his next invite or ignore his phone calls. But what she wouldn’t do is keep dating him even though she didn’t like him. And she certainly wouldn’t hang in there just to see if he might propose. You know, for fun. I watch the show and every season I think, this will be the year that ONE of these girls stands up and says, you know, living in a fantasy house with twenty other crying women sure has been fun and all, but both you and I know that we aren’t meant to be and let’s just call it what it is. Then maybe she could pull him aside and tell him the real scoop on all the crazies left in the house. Then she’d skip out of the house, conduct her “exit interview” with laughter and grace and go home to meet someone she really might fall in love with. Or probably get her own reality show. But that never happens. Never.

Is it the competition? Now that I might understand. In fact, I participated in my own version of The Bachelor. It was summer camp, circa 1989. All the girls in my cabin decided that “Michael” was THE guy. So we all liked Michael. We all tried to make eyes at him over our punch at afternoon refreshment time, to make a “connection”.  We all tried to stand out and get him to notice us, even though the boys camp and girls camp were separate and we only saw the boys in passing at meals and nightly campfire. Which meant none of us had ever talked to Michael. One girl knew him from back home and said he was “fine” and “cool”, which was enough. So the last week of camp, the big dance arrived and we were all posing on one side of the tennis court. We all stood around, hoping Michael had noticed the way we had jauntily carried our tray of sloppy joes, or maybe the adorable way we sang “One Tin Soldier” at campfire. And like most boys at the age of 14 or so, he stayed on his side of the tennis court. Until the last song of the evening, “Stairway to Heaven” when Michael walked over… to me! He picked me! We DID have a connection. We slow-danced to Stairway To Heaven. While everyone watched and the other girls in my cabin cried, because they thought they had a connection. And then he kissed me. In front of everyone. And I like, didn’t care, because he picked ME. Also I was 14 and had no ability to be embarrassed. And then we left camp and Michael called me and we talked on the phone for like, hours. A whole weekend, in fact. I realized that though Michael was indeed, “fine” and “tall”, he was quite boring and we had nothing in common. And that was the end of that.

So maybe I do understand the Bachelor. It’s really a psychological study about girl-think and how girls can get so wrapped up in the idea of something that they don’t ever ask themselves if this is something they really want. Because at the end of the day, those girls spend way more time with each other than the Bachelor. And after the fake emotional high of not getting picked fades (like in the limo ride home), I wonder how many of them wish they’d spent more time making friends instead of fighting. Because who else will understand the totally hype-induced drama that you just went through? Who else won’t judge you because you went on a reality tv show and tried to win a husband? Who else can you call when some real life guy says he’d really like to date you, but he can’t because he watched you make out with some doofus on national television?

So I keep watching. For the fauxmance and the crying, sure, but also I keep watching, and waiting, for that girl to stand up and say enough is enough. Cause THAT’s the Bachelor girl I hope I would be. But maybe I’d wait till after the fabulous vacation part. I’ve never been to New Zealand, after all.


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