A recent story on Yahoo asserted that parents these days are giving their kids more unusual names than ever.
Really? More unusual than Moon Unit or Orangejello?
Of course, I'm no expert when it comes to choosing monikers. According to some Web site my teenage son dug up -- which has to be correct because it's on the Internet, right? -- my wife and I got a D-minus in child naming.
That's because my son's first name (Michael) and his middle name (which I won't divulge here due to identity thieves and deranged e-mail stalkers) were both among the five most popular names for boys the year he was born.
Heck, we just thought we were naming him after a basketball player, or maybe an angel. We weren't sure. (He actually turned out to be the former. The latter, not so much.)
If we'd been a bit more enlightened, like some of the celebrities who are constantly telling us how we ought to live as they emerge from rehab for the third time, we might have named our son something that would have earned us an A-plus.
Like maybe Kal-El, as actor Nicholas Cage (clearly a Superman aficionado) dubbed his little tyke. Or Pilot, son of actor/comedian Jason Lee. (On the other hand, I don't think that would fly at my house.) Or we might just have called the kid Kyd, like actors Tea Leone and David Duchovny.
If he had been a girl, we could have gone with Memphis Eve (daughter of Bono), Moon Unit (Frank Zappa) or Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow).
Of course, if we were really hip to the modern-day culture of narcissism, we might have named him King or Messiah, like rapper T.I.'s sons, or simply Jermajesty, like Jermaine Jackson's daughter.
Some of my favorite unusual names, though, come from ordinary folks.
Like the woman who, according to my friend the obstetrical nurse, was in a pickle over what to name her newborn male twins. Then she happened to glance at the hospital menu and saw two choices for dessert: orange jello and lime jello. And just like that, Orangejello (pronounced "Or-angelo") and Limejello ("Limah-gelo") were officially christened.
Along the same lines, an astute reader who works for the government (and therefore sees a lot of names) sent me some of her favorites: Baby Boy (seriously -- first name Baby, last name Boy), Chlamydia, and Meconium (look it up).
So if you're planning on bringing another child into this world, or you still haven't named one of your pre-existing children, how do you exercise appropriate creativity while avoiding a naming disaster? In a column not to be missed, I'll offer some specific suggestions next week.
In the meantime, just a word of advice to all you obstetrical nurses out there working in hospital nurseries: please try to keep Meconium away from Orangejello.
Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and Director of The Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.