It’s easy for me to mock these names, though, because I don’t know anyone named Vick Vaporup, or Oleomargarine, or Job-Rakt-Out-of-the-Asshes.
But what if I did know people with these names? What then?
Well, I wouldn’t be able to make fun anymore. In fact, because I’d actually be using the names, I’d have to find a way to like them.
One of my readers is in a similar situation. Her grandchild has been given a very unusual name. Something so strange that she and other family members (save the parents) are embarrassed to reveal the full name to non-family. She’s asked me how she can convince herself to “embrace” this bizarre name.
It’s an excellent — and very tricky — question. I sent her two pieces of advice:
1. Find a version of the name you can live with.
The legal name might be embarrassing, but chances are it can be shortened/twisted into something much more acceptable. For instance, Vick Vaporup can be shortened to Vic, Oleomargarine to Marge, and Job-Rakt-Out-of-the-Asshes to Ash.
2. Ask why the name was chosen.
Learning the story behind a strange name may help you begin to appreciate the name, as it will it allow you to understand the thinking that when into the selection (even if you wouldn’t have made the same selection yourself).
I didn’t send the reader this final bit of advice, as it didn’t directly answer her question, but I think this could also help in extreme cases:
3. Tell the parents about how you (all) feel about the name.
Come clean. If everyone in the family thinks the baby’s name is that bad, someone really ought to speak up. Kindly and thoughtfully, of course, but with the best interests of the child in mind. It’s relatively easy to change the name of a newborn. (Much easier than it is to change a name later on.)
What other tips would you offer those whose family members have chosen questionable baby names? How can they cope? Under what circumstances should they speak up?