If you tell me you have a child, I’m probably going to ask what his or her name is, mostly because I want to discern what type of person you are based on the name you picked. I find name choice a fascinating little corner of the attic that is the human mind.
If I was born a boy, I would have been named Alexander. But by the time my brother was born, my parents were on to John/Jack. Would Jack have been a different person if he were Alexander? I put a call out on my Facebook page last week for people to reveal their “other” name, and got some pretty fun tales in response:
Anne Elizabeth Moore: Guess what. Buffy. For reals. My parents expected me to be a red-headed boy, and would have named that boy Buffy. Thankfully by the time they did have a red-headed boy, I had talked them out of that insanity.
Alissa Rowinsky Wright: Adam. But, initially, they were going to name me Black Elk. A totally appropriate name for a Jewish kid about to be born in Topeka, Kansas. Thanks, hippie parents, for coming to your senses!
Jessica Grose : Zeke. My older brother is Jacob and my mom thought Jake and Zeke sounded like a pair of bank robbers. My dad was not that into this idea, so Nicholas and Alexander were also in the running.
Kirsten Palmer: Samuel Palmer [which became my younger brother’s name.]
Zev Valancy: I asked many times, and have always been denied. It’s a source of frustration.
Carrie Raisler: My parents were sure I was going to be a boy and were planning to name me Christian. I believe they pulled my name out of thin air in the hospital.
Lauren Fox: Neil — because I was born three days after the moon landing.
Nicole Cliffe: Daniel. But then, when my little brother was born, they named him “Michael,” because Daniel was . . . my name? You know, it’s weird.
Paula Winfrey Brown: I was to be Brice Corbin (after my dad). I was given the nickname Corky before birth. When I came out a girl, they still wanted that God awful nickname so I became Paula Courtney aka Corky until I was 6 and demanded a name that wasn’t stupid.
Ellen Werne: A few years ago my mom said, out of the blue in the middle of JC Penney, “If I had it to do over, I would have named you Hannah.”
Raia Fink: Rafael
Maura Farrell Devine: Cornelius
M Molly Backes: Brian. I recently got into an argument with my younger sister where she was like “No, I was going to be Brian if I was a boy!” and I said right, because they didn’t name me Brian, so you could still be a Brian. This argument looks even stupider now that I type it out.
Samantha Irby: Samuel. Some imagination on my parents, Jesus.
Todd Karzen: Willamina. On the day I was born, the Sesame Street letter of the day was W. My older brother (then 3 years old) insisted that I be named Willamina. I’m so lucky I turned out male, narrowly escaping the life of an Amish girl.
Emily Weaver: I would have been Ray Harold, had I been a boy, which is the name my younger brother got, and is based on various grandfathers and great-grandfathers. I remember feeling salty as a little kid when my parents talked about the “what you might have been named” since his name was in the running for me. But my name was not in the running for him. I was all hurt, like “Why didn’t you want to name him Emily?” and I couldn’t understand that it was because I was already named Emily. Kids! I think he would have been Amanda.
Mary Richardson: Graham Brian Downing Richardson, Jr. Which is what my brother was named three years later. What is weird is the names of my parents’ first two babies (I was the third) who died at birth (born too early). The first was named Brian Dennis. The second was named Anne Elizabeth. My little sister (who is still alive) is named Elizabeth Susan. So not only did my parents not have any qualms about using names already thought of for other children, they used names already used for other children.
Jackie Gregory: Jack. Yep.
Matt Shaffer: Per my mom, I would have been named Amelia, after a nun who took her in during some turbulent years in the late 60s.
Sarah Kaiman: Noah. But my mom really liked Magic for a bit for either gender. FYI — This was pre-Magic Johnson.
Kevin Smokler: Kara. My mom had a thing for Irish names. Like every midwestern Jew in the 70s, apparently.
Martha Burzynski: Reports varied widely over the years; Michal (Polish version of Michael) or Beau.
Emily Guendelsberger: Grover. At least, that is the myth.
Meghan Haynes: Ajax (hot...mess... what happens when your father is a comic book fan, shaking my head); God knew what he was doing when He made me, I was spared!
Who would you have been? Follow Claire Zulkey @Zulkey.