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Would I be president by now if my name was Alexis?

March 13, 2010

I love names.  When I worked at Crown Books the summer before sophomore year of college, we were told to choose three sections for which we’d be responsible – straightening, re-shelving, dusting.  I chose Current Events, a section I don’t remember, and Health.  I had no interest in cholesterol levels or micro-biotic diets, but Health had the pregnancy sub-section, which housed the baby name books!  I loved thumbing through the lists and choosing my favorites.  At that point in time, I just knew that if my name was Jessica, Amy or Kelly, I’d be more normal and beautiful, and have more friends.  The summer before heading off to Boston College from Evanston, I seriously considered changing my name to Alexis.

I wasn’t named for the first year of my life.  My birth certificate just said “Baby Hillman” for twelve-months.  People called me “Baby.” My mom wanted to get to know me and let my personality dictate who I’d be for the rest of my time on earth.  While I agree with that philosophy, and hate when expectant parents refer to their unborn kid – “David’s kicking so much lately!”  “We play Bell Biv Devoe for Chelsey all the time, with the hopes she’ll be into old school rap.” – I think my mother’s route was a little extreme.  I’d wait a day or two, and see if he/she struck me more as #13 or #25 on the list of possibilities.  OR, maybe even go off-list!

I like names that are easy to pronounce and easy to spell, but that aren’t your run of the mill Mike’s and Jen’s – Amelia, Aidan, Ava, Olivia, Avery.  While I’ve come to be fine with my name – don’t love it, don’t hate it, just neutral – thirty-one years of spelling and pronouncing it for others has tired me, and I’d love a name that didn’t have an obligatory follow-up conversation (which is why when I give my name at a restaurant or at karaoke, I say “April,” my middle name).

I am not a fan of juniors, IIIs, or the like.  I think dubbing your kid John, Jr. when the father’s name is John is narcissistic.  Don’t like the “carrying on tradition” argument.  The baby deserves to be his/her own person, regardless of what’s been done in the family for years and years.

All this is to say I have a new pet peeve, which I discovered out and about in the city yesterday.  I don’t like when businesses name themselves after the street/s or neighborhoods where they’re located.  Bel-Port Liquors, corner of Belmont and Southport.  North Central Auto, guess where that’s located?  But you can’t always count on a name telling you the right location, some businesses find themselves in a pickle for not having the foresight to think they eventually might move and then end up being “Wrigleyville* Cleaners (* = located in Bucktown).”  So either you’re a business with a name that says you’re lazy and uncreative, or you’re a business with a name that says you’re lazy, uncreative, and unable to envision the big picture.

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