Wednesday, November 08, 2006

go shorty, sip Bacardi

Were you a license plate kid? By that I mean, did your name turn up on those little souvenir license plates that you would see in gift shops during your family vacation? My name was fairly easy to find but my sister Alicia's was not. My sister Catherine might find a different spelling of her name or the shortened form "Cathy" which she doesn't use.

When our daughter was born, my wife and I had every intention of calling her Kathleen. But when we first laid eyes on her, she didn't look like a Kathleen. She looked like a Megan or a Meagan or maybe a Meghan. We still have the piece of WAVA notepaper on which I wrote out several different spellings of the name before we settled on Meaghan. I don't really know why. It might have been because it looked more Irish. It might have been because I didn't want her name to contain the word "mega." I remembered working with a girl named Megan who was called "mega" behind her back.

I recently read "Freakonomics," an entertaining book that uses economics to explain many aspects of modern life. The last chapter looks at baby names and the impact those names have (or don't have) when the kids grow up. The authors find a pattern of names that catch on with high income, highly educated parents and then work their way down the socioeconomic ladder until they drop out of favor.

It's safe to assume that the people who make the little license plates keep track of the trends. Instead of printing Susan and Lisa plates, they moved on to Jennifer and Sarah and then to Amber and Heather. More recently it was Emily and Hannah at the top of the list.

What about the Jaydens of the world? There seem to be more and more unique baby names. While at the supermarket, I spotted a CD rack selling "Songs About Me." Each CD is customized to include lyrics with a specific child's name. Many of the CDs I saw had names that are not on the list of the most popular. The CD is a nice treat for kids
with names like Cheyenne or Callan who might never see their name on a gift shop license plate. Or it would be if the songs were good.

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