What’s in a name

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Imagine that you’ve just survived 22 grueling hours of labor and given birth to a healthy baby girl. Your husband bursts into the room. You’re exhausted.

Weeks before, you had settled on a name together – a beautiful biblical name. After spending time bonding with some other soon-to-be dads in the waiting room, your husband has thought up something better. Something different.

“Let’s name her Tiffany,” he says.

You nod, give him a vague smile and sink into a deep sleep thinking this too shall pass.

The next day, you cradle the tiny baby in your arms. You’re not a Tiffany, you think. But your husband is sure, positive, that his inspiration, the new name, is best.

So you argue. The doctor walks in and asks what is the problem. And then, pulling a shiny object out of his pocket, he announces a solution. Let’s flip a coin, he says.

Mom called heads.

Dad called tails.

And to this day, I always choose heads.

Six years later, mom was pregnant again. I was thrilled, so sure a little sister would join our family. I rearranged my room, separated my toys, and devised elaborate plans to train my protege.

Mom and dad went to the hospital. I soon arrived with my grandparents in tow, eager to meet my new sister. Dad walked me down the green corridor and stopped in front of a room filled with cribs.

“Which one is ours?” I asked, my nose pressed up against the glass.
“That one,” he said, pointing to a baby with a blue cap.
“Can we take that one instead?” I asked pointing to an adorable creature in pink.
“Well, um, no,” he said. “The baby boy is ours.”

I was distraught. Another brother? This can’t be. Why couldn’t we swap him for the baby girl? The baby room blurred in an endless stream of tears. I was inconsolable.

Early that evening, my dad and I visited with mom. I sat down on an orange chair and squirmed, trying to get comfortable on the hard plastic. My parents looked at each other and then faced me. Did they reconsider? Were we going to bring home a sister?

“I kept telling you it was probably going to be a baby boy,” my mom said softly.
“I know,” I choked, looking down. “But….”
“And we see how upset you are,” my dad interrupted. “So we’re going to give you a very important job.”
“Why don’t you name the baby?” my mom asked.

Such an honor – to name a person. This was almost better than growing up with a sister. I wanted to choose a special name. A name he could live up to…. and immediately I knew.

“Darren,” I said.

When my baby brother was in kindergarten, he learned the truth about his name and didn’t talk to me for days. Apparently my parents had considered “Mark,” “Kevin,” and “Eric”…. all of which he preferred.

“Why Darren?” he spat out at me.
“Because I wanted to give you a famous name,” I said, exasperated.
“No one famous is named Darren,” he said.
“Sure there is. I named you after Samantha’s husband on Bewitched.”

Someday, he’ll forgive me.


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