How do you feel about your name, Barry?

Today’s name interview is with Barry Brake, a 46-year-old from San Antonio, Texas.

What’s the story behind his name?

They were going to name me Brandon (or was it Brendan?) — one of the really trendy names of the late 60s. But a few months into it, a kid down the street was born and they named *him* Brendan, so my parents didn’t want 2 on the same block.

It appeared to everyone that the name Barry came out of the blue. It’s not a family name or anything. But when I was an adult my mom told me something she’d never told me or anyone before, except my dad: that she thought I’d be a performer with my name in lights, and she really liked the stagey sound of “Barry Brake.” Indeed I ended up with musical talent and a showoff personality, and became a performer (though my name isn’t in lights!) I have to say my name works quite well and is a memorable name for a performer to have. Nice premonition!

(He’s right about the ’60s: the baby name Barry was most popular back in 1962.)

What does he like most about his name?

It’s catchy and memorable, and easy to spell for bank tellers and other people behind desks. I can’t imagine how many thousands of hours of my life would have been wasted in spelling out Kryzstoffre or something. Whew! And Barry works well with my last name, too, which I think matters a lot.

What does he like least about his name?

As a kid it’s pretty easy to make fun of. It rhymes with stuff, so you get everything from the relatively irritating “Barry Cherry” to the slightly more irritating “Barry Fairy.” Also, there were several years there when people could not help but mention Barry Manilow when they met me.

Added to that is that my last name is rather unusual, leading to my now rule that a kid should only have one unusual name, so if your last name is Sauvage you should stick to naming your kids Mike and Ann, and if your last name is Smith you can name them Thaddeus and Guinevere, but you don’t want a super-plain-jane name or a plaid-on-stripes name.

That said, mine wasn’t *too* plaid-on-stripes, and all the current research shows that people with unusual names who get made fun of as kids generally grow as a result of it. So I’m glad I had a mildly character-building name, though I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my name wasn’t Schenectady Picklebottom.

Later on in life, you get rid of the schoolyard games and move on to other concerns. Mine is that Barry seems to always be the name of the fiancé in the *beginning* of the movie: the bland guy who’s “nice” but all wrong for the girl, and who gets summarily dumped. Either that or the loser boyfriend who … also gets summarily dumped. What is it with screenwriters and the name Barry?

Finally, would Barry recommend that his name be given to babies today?

Sure. If we’d had a son, Barry was at least a consideration, probably for a middle name. It’s sturdy and solid, and not trendy. But on the other hand it *is* more a Gen-X name than you’d probably get today: with Jennifer and Amy and Scott, it just seems to belong to people my age and not to the Noahs and Calebs our kids’ age. My prediction is that for at least a couple of generations, the Barrys around you will be named for someone in the family.

Thanks so much, Barry!

3 thoughts on “How do you feel about your name, Barry?

  1. Barry does have a 60s feel, but I don’t think it’s as dated as Gary or Larry. There was an adorable little blonde Barry at my daughter’s school for a while and I really think it can still work well on a child.

  2. Small side-step, reacting to Diane’s comment: I don’t know if Larry is actually dated, but oh my — I can’t get Leisure Suit Larry out of my mind, and I really, really wouldn’t want to think about HIM when a friend shows off his newborn!

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