Big Billy – You name it

What’s with the names some people give their kids?

Minnie’s sister Betty is gettin’ close to havin’ her baby, and when she was over here the other night, we were talkin’ about how people give their kids insane names nowadays.

If you got kids in school, then you probably know what I mean, and it seems like the Big BIllyyounger the kids are, the weirder the names they got. Our niece Cathy’s little fella, Little Jim, just started day care since she started workin’ at the call centre, and you should hear the names of some of the kids in his class.

His best friend is named Kite. Or maybe it’s spelled Kyte, I don’t know. I can’t tell you if that’s a boy or a girl. The kid itself probably don’t even know. I wonder if the parents have to tie the kid down so it don’t float away. I wonder if they tell the kid not to run too fast so it don’t shoot up into the air all of a sudden.

There’s another kid in his class whose name is spelled “Jax” but pronounced “Jack.” Where did the S sound go? Why not just spell it Jack? Now, as far as I’m concerned that kind of thing should be illegal. You can’t just make up new rules for how letters are supposed to sound. That’s like saying, This is my son, Qljnxv, which is pronounced “Neil.”

Then there’s Bryley, the little girl who belongs to that young couple who bought the house on the corner across the street from us.. It’s pronounced “br-eye-lee.” I’ll give you two guesses what the parents’ names are. If you guessed Bryan and Ashley, give yourself a prize. Now don’t you think that kid is gonna figure out the facts of life quicker than the other kids? Right there in her name, her parents are tangled up in each other.

See, back in our day, people just had regular names. Usually you were named after your father or your grandfather or your uncle or somebody (usually somebody dead), and the place where you’d get cute with it is with the nicknames. When we were about 12 or so, our buddy Joey fell into a wooden barrel full of pickle juice, and we called him Pickle Arse from then on. Our buddy Roger got whacked in the nose with a baseball once and bled all over the place, which is why everybody called him Red. There was Big Chief, Jigger, Squeaky Tom, Johnny Tar Foot. Just about everybody got a nickname at some point. Some of them stuck, and some of them only lasted for the school year, or for the summer, or whatever.

The point is, you had a regular name, and then people came up with a nickname for you based on what kind of fella you were. So the name always fit. But if you try to get clever with the name before you what kind of person the kid is gonna be, you’re just rollin’ the dice. I mean, why risk namin’ your little girl Flower if she might grow up to be rugged two-way defenceman?

I remember when Little Bill started school years ago, there wasn’t a weird name in the bunch. I don’t remember exactly what their names were, but they were probably regular names like John, Jason, Robert, or Daniel.

And when Rosie started school, I remember there was a girl in her class named Ceilidh. Ohh, what a pretty name, Minnie said, just like the big celtic party.

And I had to agree, because at least that name makes sense. I mean, we’re in Cape Breton, and the kid’s last name was MacDonald or MacNeil or something, so there was an explanation for it. (Maybe Kite’s great-grandfather invented the kite or somethin’?) But imagine that, just a few years ago, Ceilidh was the only unusual name there was.

But apart from the made-up names, the funniest ones are the names people give their kids after they move away and make a bunch of money and forget where they come from.

That night Betty was here she was tellin’ us somebody she works with just had a baby and named it “Icarus.”

What in the hell kind of name is that? I said. Good thing Rosie was there, and explained to us Icarus was a character in Greek mythology who built wings out of wax and feathers, but when he flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he fell to the earth.

Aaaaaaall right then, I says.

Or take my buddy Murph – now you know he got a temper and he’ll probably kill me for tellin’ yis this, but his young fella, who still lives out west, just had a baby with his girlfriend.

Me and Minnie was in at Wal-Mart so I could get some socks and we ran into Murph and his wife, and she goes on an on about how beautiful the baby is and everything and she hauls a picture out of her wallet and shows it to us.

Oh! He’s handsome! Minnie says. What did they call him?

Justice Walker Murphy, the proud grandma says.

Now, it took just about everything I had to keep from doublin’ over laughin’ at the idea that Murph’s grandson is named “Justice” since just about everybody knows Murph is the guy to talk to if you want to buy somethin’ that fell off a truck. Murph’s been smokin’ cigarettes from giant pastic bags for so long, he forgets what a package looks like. Murph’s criminal record is probably longer than his actual grandson if you printed off the sheets and taped them together.

I bit my tongue and didn’t make any of the jokes I had in my head.
Oh, he’s right nice, I said.

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