I Heart Indies

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Middle Names

I worry that today's modern a-go-go parents with their twitter-woofs and their google-dangles, are not giving the careful consideration they should to the important tradition naming their offspring.  This is particularly true in the matter of middle names.  I write this because I now perceive Nancy and I have made a terrible blunder in naming our own children, a mistake it is now far too late to undo, and I wish to save other parents from a similar error.

My daughters, by the way, are Catherine Lee and Spencer Helen.

Nothing wrong with those names, you say, they look perfectly fine.  That's the problem.
At one time in our nation's proud history, you could count on the middle name to be something really awful and embarrassing.  It was like the gunk crack between the stove and the counter top, the owner kept it hidden out of a decent sense of shame.
In a bygone era, middle names ensured
everyone had at least one shameful secret

Middle names for boys might be Virgil, Percy, or Gaylord; for girls it was Eugenia, Agnes, or Blanche.  Winifred, I believe, could be used for either sex.  The middle name was not chosen willy-nilly from a book 1000 Truly Awful Names for Baby, but was imposed on the parents to appease some crotchety old ancestor who never had children of her own, perhaps because her name was Hortense.  Everyone understood the middle name was an abomination, and we liked it that way.

The great thing about the middle name is it meant everyone had at least one shameful secret.  You knew when you heard somebody's mother hollering, "Wayne Periwinkle Brown, come home this instant!"  Wayne was in for it.  Even the kid everyone hated because he was so popular was somewhat redeemed by the knowledge that he had some terrible middle name he would not reveal even under torture.

As I say, it is too late for me and Nancy.  Our children are grown and moved out, and we wouldn't be able to wrestle them down and re-brand them if we tried.  But maybe it's not too late for you.  Maybe it's not too late.


  1. Sad that every child can't have a cool middle name like Ulysses, Myrtle, or the real jackpot: Hiram.

  2. Well, you know how it was; it was sixth grade. We were all sharing middle names. When it came to me and I said my middle name, nobody believed me. Then we graduated from Elementary school (when many peers learn of our middle names the first time). My name was announced and that's when it began. I became... Offutt.