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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone

January 15, 2004


According to the Social Security Administration (Slogan: We may run out of money by the time you retire, but we'd like to keep busy until then!"), The top ten girls and boys names for 2002 were:


Emily ...........Jacob

Hanna ...........Michael

Madison ........Matthew

Ashley ..........Joshua

Sarah .......... Christopher

Alexis ...........Nicholas

Samantha ......Andrew

Jessica ..........Joseph

Elizabeth....... Daniel


According to the folks at Social Security, who apparently have nothing better to do than compose David Letterman-like top ten lists*, Emily has been the most popular name for girls since 1996, when it replaced Jessica. Less understandably, Jacob took over the number one slot for boys in 1999 from Michael. Michael enjoyed a 34-year run at number one from 1964 to 1998, although we don't think Michael Jackson had any influence on it's drop from the top slot. Mercifully, trendsuckers like Destiny, Trinity and Dakota didn't make the list.

It just shows you how things change. In 1880, the most popular names were:










Thomas.... ..... Marie

Harry Annie.....Sarah (tie)

All normal, common names (although I have my doubts about "Minnie"). People today could learn a useful lesson from this. What you name your child will affect him or her for the rest of their lives. Of course, if you name your son Gaylord or Wilberforce the frequent beatings may toughen him up, but you can't count on it. What you name your child should also influenced by your last name. If you have a plain last name like Smith, Jones or Johnson you should give your child a distinctive first name. There are enough John Smiths and Bob Jones's in the world, and people will treat it like an alias, anyway. Distinctive, but not ridiculous. Jefferson, Tyler, Morgan are acceptable; Ponsonby, Chingachgook and Schwarzennegger aren't. If you're British, Nigel or Basil are acceptable, although Llewellyn is probably excessive. And if you call your daughter something like "Candee" or "Bambi" you may as well send her to straight to exotic dancer school. Note the following examples:

Bambi LaRue: Stripper

Sandra Day O'Connor: Supreme Court Justice

See the difference?

Puns, jokes and precious baby names should be punishable by death. Mary Christmas, Sally Forth, Jim Dandee, etc. shouldn't be allowed, and calling your daughter "Bidet" assures that the subject will come up at a Menendez brothers-like trial in the future. I heard a story on the radio recently about a woman who was saddled with the name Apple, as in "the apple of her parents eye". This sort of thing might strike you as funny or cute, but trust me, once you sober up you'll realize what you've done to your offspring. If not, you shouldn't be allowed to reproduce, anyway.

Androgenous names, such as Leslie, Jody, etc. are ambiguous at best; cross genderal names should be avoided like the plague. Actress Darryl Hannah and sports writer Shirley Povich may have been successful in their fields, but a burly truck driver named Mary won't last long, and naming your daughter George pretty much assures psychoanalyst bills down the line.

Some names are outdated: Ethel, Blanche, Bertha, Eunice, Philo, Throckmorton. Others are seriously outdated: Prudence, Dorcas, Submit, Mehitabel.

African-Americans lead the way when it comes to making sure their kids will never find name magnets. Not to make racial generalizations, but if you see someone named Jamal, Rashaad, Ton'deeka or LaShrieka, chances are he or she isn't of the Caucasian persuasion. Here are some actual names of NBA players:

Jemeil Rich

Othella Harrington

Tayshaun Prince

Rasual Butler

LaPhonso Ellis

Jahidi White

Shandon Anderson


Sometimes, a name change is a good career move. Hiram Ulysses Grant is known to history as Ulysses S. Grant, Marion Michael Morrison became John Wayne, Leslie Townes Hope changed his first name to Bob and Archie Leach is better known as Cary Grant.

Shakespeare once asked, "What's in a name?", which was easy for him, as his name was "William".

*The Top Ten Reasons to die young (according to the Social Security Administration):

10. We spent all the money researching Top Ten lists

9. By the time you retire, nursing homes will be nowhere near as plush as they are now.

8. You won't have to deal with obnoxious yuppies with names like "Madison" and "Tyler".

7. The secret plan by the government to replace gated retirement communities with Dickensian workhouses.

6. The Earlybird Special isn't really all it's cracked up to be.

5. You won't have to end your days wearing pastel polyester.

4. By the time you're 65 the retirement age will be 112.

3. No more "I've fallen... and I can't get up!" jokes from the EMTs.

2. Do you REALLY want to end up like Wilford Brimley?

1. Two Words: "Soylent Green"



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In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11