I’m pregnant. My husband and I have been going back and forth on name options but have no ideas. So right now I have a baby without a name. I know this is a strange request, but can you give me some name suggestions? I don’t want one of those modern names.
The night I was born, my mother took me into her arms and decided that she was going to name me Elvis.
My aunt recalls: “Your mama loved Elvis. Plus, you were a Capricorn, you know. Elvis and Jesus were Capricorns.”
In the end, my mother gave me a Scot-Irish name. But over the years I’ve wondered about how differently my life would have played out if my mother would have gone with Elvis.
PATROLMAN: License and registration, please, sir?
ME: Here you are, officer.
HIM: Do you know how fast you were driving back there…. (looks at license) Elvis?
As a writer, when you start working on a novel, the first thing you think about are the names of your characters. In fact, names are one of the most important parts of any story. Think about it. How many pieces of classic literature do you read where the hero was named Heman Pickles?
You do, however, have to be careful when you give opinions on names you like and dislike because feelings can get hurt very easily. My mother and aunt once got into a knock-down-drag-out argument after my aunt admitted that she never liked my mother’s name.
My mother was fuming. She stood from her chair and informed my aunt that she never liked my aunt’s name, either. Things got ugly. My mother said my aunt’s name reminded her of a barefoot and pregnant hick—my aunt at the time, was barefoot, also pregnant.
So then my aunt said my mother had a bad singing voice and that her cornbread was never done in the middle. I had to break up the fight by singing “Don’t Be Cruel.”
My own feelings have been hurt over the subject of names. One of my favorite writers once stated in print that, quote, names like “Brittany, Kristen, and Sean,” were modern, and therefore silly names. It crushed me. Deeply.
First off, the name Sean is not modern. The name Sean dates back to the 1100s. My mother’s family is Scot-Irish, and there were famous men named Sean within my ancestry, men who influenced the course of history. Foremost of which was Sean MacGavin, the son of a blacksmith who, in 1219 A.D., composed the timeless melody “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” for the glory of the King.
But let’s get down to business and cut the small-talk. You asked about names, and I’m going to give you a few:
If we’re talking girls, I’m a big fan of antique names like Myrtle, Myrtis, Hazel, Edna, Betsy, Ethel, Cora, Rose, Zelda, Penelope, and Daisy. My great grandmother was named Beva, one of my favorites. You don’t hear names like Beva anymore.
Young parents shy away from certain antique names because they think they sound like old-lady names. But I disagree. There’s no such thing as an old lady name. One of my favorite names is Edna.
For boys, I especially like names that, for some reason, fell out of fashion. Names like Leroy, Merel, Wyatt, Wally, Jasper, Felix, Ezra, and Elroy, Elmore, and Wylie, and Alvin.
I had a good friend named Wyatt. I like that name.
Personally, I’ve always thought a name was one of the most important elements of a person’s jumpstart in life. Your name is the first thing anyone will ever say about you. Your name is the last thing that will be ever be written about you.
You will go through some very hard times in life no matter who you are, no matter what circumstances you come from. Your life at some point is going to suck. Within these darkened hours, your name will sometimes be one of the only things you have left.
A name will outlive you for generations. A name is one of the only tangible parts of yourself that people will still be using long after your remains are dust.
As a kid, my mother was always quick to remind me that the name Sean meant, literally, “God has been gracious.” I didn’t pay attention to her words at that age, I was too busy eating dirt, and just generally being a brat. But when I got older I went through a very difficult period, a period I didn’t think I was going to survive, and my name actually meant something to me.
One night, I got to thinking about my name’s meaning, and it made me warm all over because I realized that I’d never thought about how four simple letters could have been so foretelling.
So I’m running out of room here. The truth is, it really doesn’t matter what I think about a name, but if you ask me—which you did—whether it’s a boy or girl, my vote is for Elvis Aaron Presley.