These are but some of the double up names I have had. So, I peeked at the advance registration for the spring semester—and, sure enough, I have a double up name: Amanda.
This business of naming does fascinate me. I wrote about it a while back, here. At that time, I looked at the Social Security Administration’s listing of most popular first names over the decades. I found another spiffy site that shows the same thing, with a bit more pizzazz.
A year ago, I read the highly interesting book Freakonomics. The authors suggest that some first names that are super-trendy or super-ethnic may not serve their charges well. You can see some of what they have to say here. It would certainly be interesting to hear their take, now that we have elected our first African-American president with a decidedly un-presidential first name of Barack.
To this point in our history, we have had 2 presidents first named Andrew, 2 named Franklin; 3 named George; 4 named John; 4 named William; and the most popular first name with 6—James. Prior to Barack, probably the previous most unusual first name was Ulysses.
I wonder how long it will be until we have a U.S. President with a first name of Amanda, or Ashley, or Karen, or Kristen, or. . .?
Maybe part of the mental block that Americans have for envisioning a woman as president has to do with the lack of strength too many first names for women hold these days. When our daughter was born, and we pondered a strong first name for her, we naturally turned to family first names. While I dearly love the women in my family life, I was not prepared to give our daughter some of the old-fashioned names. So I eschewed names like Dorcas, Mary, Ada, Kathryn, Leoda, Emma, Cora, Lillian and Ida. Even though we didn't pick a family name, I like the strong name my husband and I agreed on for our daughter’s name.
Several years ago, I remember that Garrison Keillor read a poem about strong women names—so I went looking for it. Here it is: what a wonderful way to celebrate the strong names of women.
Mourning the Dying of American Female Names
By Hunt Hawkins
In the Altha Diner in the Florida panhandle
a stocky white-haired woman
with a plastic nameplate “Mildred”
gently turns my burger, and I fall into grief.
I remember the long, hot drives to North Carolina
to visit Aunt Alma, who puts up quarts of peaches,
and my grandmother Gladys with her pieced quilts
Many names are almost gone: Gertrude, Myrtle,
Agnes, Bernice, Hortense, Edna, Doris, and Hilda.
They were wide women, cotton-clothed, early rising.
You have to move your mouth to say their names,
and they meant strength, spear, battle, and victory.
When did women stop being Saxons and Goths?
What fate frog turned them into Alison, Melissa,
Valeria, Natalie, Adrienne, and Lucinda,
diminished them to Wendy, Cindy, Susy, and Vicky?
I look at these young women and hope
they are headed for the Presidency,
but I fear America has other plans in mind,
that they be no longer at war
but subdued instead in amorphous corporate work,
somebody’s assistant, something in a bank,
single parent with word processing skills.
They must have been made French
so they could be cheap foreign labor.
Well, all I can say is
good luck to you
Kimberly, Darlene, Cheryl, Heather, and Amy.
Good luck April, Melanie, Becky, and Kelly.
I hope it goes well for you.
But for a moment let us mourn.
Now it is time to say goodbye
to Florence, Muriel, Ethel, and Thelma.
Goodbye Minnie, Ada, Bertha, and Edith.
Published in The Domestic Life, 1994.