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10:56 a.m. - October 06, 2005
The Name Game
I’m going to list some names of a group of people, and I’ll give you three guesses as to what kind of group this is:

Kylie, Olevia, Ronni, Sierrah, Shelbi, Faith, Jacki, Amelia, Ashlee.

I know what your three guesses were, and for the first two get your mind out of the gutter.

That’s right – they’re cheerleaders. (Specifically - the Lebanon High School JV Cheerleading Squad).

(Side note, the varsity cheerleaders at Lebanon have two Caseys and a Kaci – isn’t that over the limit? Won’t they have to release one of the Caseys back to her natural habitat?)

With names like that, what else COULD they be?

Even if Shelbi or Ashlee becomes president or a Supreme Court justice, the first thing I will think of (well, probably the first thing) would be “Ready? OK!”

Those names reminded me of a family of cheerleaders at a small town high school in Attica, Indiana. They were the Fosters, and they were two sets of sisters who were cousins. They were all cheerleaders at the high school around the same time.

Their names: Frosty, Holly, Jolly, and Happy.

Frosty (given name Fraustina) and Holly were sisters, as were Jolly and Happy. Holly and Jolly were in the same grade.

Scarred for life, they are.

(You don’t have to be a funny man all the time if you have raw material like that to work with, do you??)

This is why we were very careful in naming Katie and Kristin.

Well, for the most part. Liz’s best friend, Snow White, said that “Oh, Katie and Kristi would be sooooo cute as cheerleaders!”

Yeah, we’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got spirit, how ‘bout you? Blah, blah, blah.

That’s one reason we’re calling Kristin Kristin, even though my Mom is trying her best to drop that ‘n’. Sorry Mom, no dice.

Note: I really don’t mean to rant about cheerleaders, or even cheerleader names. Heck, I even dated a cheerleader. (Well, it was after college, and it was a cheerleader for another high school in the county, and if you call keeping her in chaste company for a few nights while she clomps around in a heavy knee brace because of a skiing accident dates. I do. But I digress. As is my wont in life.) If you have a name like that – it’s all in good fun, really. Honestly!

Names are fascinating to me. And they are definitely a hallmark of a culture, and they are definitely split among ethnic lines.

Some of my so-called friends used to make fun of African American names all the time, especially the ones that sounded contrived.

However, Shelbi isn’t contrived? What about the 23,198 ways to spell Brittany? On the Lebanon football team there’s an Addison, a Ryland, a Colt, and Ory, and a Kreg. Sounds like central casting for “As The Plot Thickens”. Isn’t Ryland a bit out there like Keshawn?

You just need to be careful when naming kids. I mean, naming a girl Bambi or Brandee is just inviting trouble. There was a girl in my high school class named Velvet. It was almost a self-fulfilling prophecy there. For boys, weird or wimpy names usually guarantee that lunch money will be stolen.

Getting back to Katie and Kristin – their names came about after very careful consideration. However, there’s a backstory (isn’t there always a backstory?)

Way back when, with my first real serious true love, she once wrote me a note with some suggested kid names. Now, being a male of 23 or so, I kind of flinched a little at the notion of me spawning already. However, some of the names stuck with me – two of them in fact.

Katherine Renee
Damon O’Neal

I liked the sound of them. So I filed them away appropriately. (And her kids are not named Katherine nor Damon.)

All the while when Liz and I were trying to conceive naturally (the fun way) then through fertility treatments (the pain-in-the-ass-in-more-ways-than-one way) we never really mentioned names for a potential baby. Not even during the start of the adoption process did we really think about names. We had a few sketched out, but nothing was solid. But as you know, from this essay we had only a short amount of time (48 hours) to settle on names.

So I trotted out Katherine Renee and Damon O’Neal. Liz loved Katherine, but the middle name was a bit…well…complicated due to a complicated back story (and no, I won’t layer backstories into backstories – this isn’t Lost, you know. More on that backstory later) so we had to choose a middle name.

I looked at Liz and I said “Ann”. Thus, Katherine Ann was settled.

Why Ann? Well, that’s Liz’s real name. Liz started going by Liz in College. I still get calls from some old friends asking for Ann. I’ve dealt with it. But it was a great way to stop unwanted calls.

Three second pause.
“Uh, hello, may I speak to…Ann”.
“She’s tied up right now – and I must get back to her. The restraints are starting to loosen up. Say, you aren’t into a little BDSM are you?”

(The no-call list has ruined some of my fun in life…)

Even though she’s Katie right now, Katherine is versatile enough that she can be Katherine, or Kate, or whatever she wants to call herself.

Damon O’Neal was rejected right out (I think because of the source, no offense Jenster) and then I proposed Richard Allen. My brother, my grandfather, and an exponentially great uncle were all named Richard Allen.

Not going to work – one of Liz’s sisters is married to a Richard. And that’s yet ANOTHER complicated back story.

So we finally came up with Alexander Scott. But that name was unused thanks to Katie being…well…Katie.

And as for Kristin, we had more time to plan, and the boy’s name was already selected. However, we thought about what would sound as a nice compliment to Katie and not sound overly cutie-poo.

Then I thought of her sisters, and used their names. Kristin Leah.

Of course, as Liz did, when Kristin and Leah were growing up, they were not going by Kristin or Leah. They changed the name they went by as well. It was Lynn and Mary. At least the family is consistent.

When Katie was a baby – to me she was always Katie-boo, or honey-boo, or Katie-girl. When I was feeding her, or trying to calm her down, those names just flowed naturally out of my mouth.

Kristin is a bit more complicated. Kristin-girl or Kristin-boo just doesn’t flow. And I’m not dropping the ‘n’ just to make a pet baby name. So she’s just Kristin right now, and that’s alright with us.

Even though she’s Katie right now, Katherine is versatile enough that she can be Katherine, or Kate, or whatever she wants to call herself. Kate sounds like a great name for a point guard, although right now Katie is more of a power forward type.

And of course, those names are perfect for the discipline escalation:

Katherine Ann!

Yep, I already use that trick, and when I trot out the entire name, including our surname, Katie already realizes she’s in trouble.

The names we selected just fit the kids, and that’s just perfect. The girls could be anything they want to be.

Even cheerleaders.

And if they are, we’ll I’ve got spirit – yes I do – I’ve got spirit – how about you???


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