I looked at the cover of the Merriam-Webster. "Well, this is kind of a dictionary for...words, not really names, Cal."
"I know, but we can use it to get ideas."
So far names he has come up with:
GANA ("It's the country where my friend Qadir was born. Only I think where he was born has a letter 'H' in it too.")
MISO (No explanation for that one, but if you didn't instantly think "Miso Horny," well, then you and I are very different people.)
LUSHAN ("Because it sounds a little Chinese")
MUZIE (He also included an alternate spelling "MUZEE" in his notes--how thoughtful)
JULIA (The inexplicably normal name in his list--I think we had a little girl neighbor with that name a few moves ago who came over to play Wii bowling with him one time, and Cal was very impressed.)
Anyway, I didn't want to tell him "No way in hell" (at least to the first four) because, you know, I don't want to crush his dreams or anything, but I just said brightly that it was a very nice list to consider, and let's keep adding to it, shall we?
Cal and Mack are named Cal and Mack. I don't recall thinking that long and hard about their names, they were just names that I'd heard and I liked, and pretty much after we found out we were having boys, I asked, "How about Cal?" and Joe said "Great!" so there we were.
We don't have an elaborate child naming philosophy per se, but if there was any unifying factor, I'd say that Joe and I are drawn to names that are shorter and straightforward--less common but not of the completely made up variety--and seem to convey a sense of laid-back friendliness. They're both kind of nicknamey names (I have to tell people Cal isn't short for Calvin and Mack isn't short for Mackintosh or whatever, those are just the given names on their birth certificates) and in particular the fact that the names are somewhat less common have invited some less polite people (mostly via the Internet, not in real life thank goodness, at least not to my face) to be all, "Cal and Mack? The hell? What's your next kid going to be named? Zip? Pop? Jet? Nerp?" I don't think Cal and Mack are the most eccentric names I've ever heard, but I guess, to some people, they are.
I'd say the closest set of names that I've happened upon to match our aesthetic (and I haven't found this website until a few weeks ago, so we certainly didn't go by this list to name our kids) is this list on Nameberry of "relaxed names for boys." I think I had posted this link on my Twitter feed a few weeks ago--I just thought it funny because it proved that, indeed, we had some sort of underlying unifying theme for naming our kids, even if we hadn't thought that hard about it originally. I also find it somewhat amusing that the names "Joe" and "Moe" are also on that list--Joe is Joe, obvs, and "Mo" happens to be my Chinese nickname from childhood. We are related!
Anyway, we'd been looking at boy names, and I think in many ways, boys names are easier, because there's just less frill to many of them. Girls names, however, are more of a challenge. What's a short, friendly, not overused girl's name that fits with our first two kids? Joe and I came up with a few after Wednesday, but no easy favorites, and no slam dunks yet. Obviously, we have time, but we are planners. Us and Cal with his dictionary.
So internets, I turn to you. Give us some ideas. Some facts that may inform your brainstorming:
- I find old-fashioned names charming--I think the name "Mack," in particular, had its heyday at the turn of the century, and "Cal" is similar in its trajectory.
- My parents are going to help us choose a Chinese middle name for the kid (Cal's middle name is "Leung-Han" and Mack's middle name is "Wei-Ping," both family names) so we don't know what that's going to be yet, but right now we just need a first name.
- The kids take Joe's last name (which you can find here), and we don't hyphenate or do anything funny because my last name ("Au"--pay attention, people!) is just generally awkward for that kind of thing.
- Joe's family is mostly Italian (there's some German/British extraction in there on one side too, which is why he looks...not so much Italian), and while we haven't really gone to that well for the boy's names yet, maybe, for a girl, it could be cute. (By the way, I asked Joe of there were any nice family names for girls on his side that he wanted to entertain, and he said...well, I'll just say he said no, that's polite, right?)
Names! Girls! GO!