It’s hard to explain how people come up with names for their kids. We used mostly family names, but even that had its risks. When our kids were born, we had an inadvertent run-in with the name police. Grace was 3 when Caroline came along. “Oh,” someone said, “you named your kids after the royal family of Monaco.” No. We didn’t. “You don’t know us very well do you,” we thought. Then our son John came along a couple years later, and we got “you named your kids after JFK’s kids.” No. We didn’t. And don’t get me started on the “you kept trying until you got your boy” people, either.
When we were evaluating prospective names for our kids, I used the “Grandma/Grandpa test”. Many years in the future, when our kids are elderly, how will their own kids sound when they say, “Let’s go to Grandma Brittany’s house,” or, “Let’s go visit Grandpa Aiden.” Aiden, for those that don’t know it, was the 16th most popular boy’s name of 2008 according to the Social Security Administration. I’m told it’s also the name of one of the Gosselin eight, as in “Jon and Kate plus 8”, although it’s spelled “Aaden”. I was actually relieved to read through the list of popular children’s names to see that more traditional girls’ names have made a comeback in the days since we were in the naming business.
I’ve considered changing my name to be Mar4k. The 4 is silent.
A group that we’re involved with includes a couple who has fraternal twins. The Smiths (not their real names) have a girl named Addison and a boy named Clark. Two perfectly nice names when viewed independently, but together they’re probably the most famous intersection in Chicago, and the home of baseball’s most dismal team, the Chicago Cubs. They named their kids after an intersection to show their love of the Cubs. I’m sure they’re not the first people to do this—there’s a radio ad for Old Style beer that includes a mention of such a thing, but I think it’s a joke. They are, however, the first people that I’ve come in contact with to that have done it, so it’s intriguing to me.
I’m a Cub fan too, but more of a casual one. After all these years of watching my parents and friends suffer every inevitable swoon, my expectations are perpetually low. It helps me avoid the crushing blow, although having been at the Bartman Game I will admit to having been crushed at the outcome that particular night and season. The intersection of Clark and Addison holds special meaning for me, too, for 1060 West Addison Street serves as my “home address” should I need to provide one to a website I’m visiting. This is in honor of the address on the driver’s license of Elwood Blues. Now you know.
I saw Addison and Clark’s parents this weekend with a new baby in tow, in defiance of the “no one has more kids after they have twins” rule. Their new, beautiful son is named James Sheffield Smith. I couldn’t believe it. Talk about going all in! They’re not only wearing their hearts on their sleeves but on their birth certificates! For the uninitiated, Sheffield is the street just over the right field wall at Wrigley Field. Three streets bordering the ball park down, one to go. Waveland Avenue. What was once a cute novelty had suddenly jumped the shark.
Once I’d seen James Sheffield, I spent the rest of the morning with the questions racing through my head:
- Are these two going to have another child and how are they going to work the word “Waveland” into its name?
- Is the risk that they might name a kid “Waveland” enough to necessitate some kind of court-ordered surgical intervention?
- Aren’t we all glad they’re not White Sox fans and named their kids “35th” and “Shields” and “Dan Ryan”
- Do fans in other cities do stuff like this? Do Red Sox fans name their kids “Yawkey”? Dodger fans “Chavez Ravine”? Reds fans “Pete Rose Way”?
- Aren’t they happy they didn’t name them “Alfonso” and “Kerry” and “Milton”?
- How tired are those kids going to be of having to either explain themselves to others or endure an extra measure of late August heckling as the Cubs do their annual fold?
- What are these parents going to do when the Cubs move to another location?
I suppose it’s possible that the “Smiths” have a family history that includes Addison, Clark and Sheffield, so all of this could be one big coincidence. In any event, I wish them all the best. Raising kids today is not for the faint of heart. I just hope they are some understanding kids once they’re old enough to realize what’s gone on.