Dear Prudence advice column letter on naming

A letter in the Dear Prudence column today is by a person whose wife is picking out terrible names and not taking the naming process seriously, leading him to question their entire relationship:


April 13, 2017 10:44 PM

That poor guy (I'm going to write as though it's a guy, though know it may not be) just hasn't found his people! The comments won't load for me, but the preview of the top comment includes calling the letter writer a snob and says that his wife wrote her list on the back of a grocery bill because while he was spending time researching names, his wife was doing the errands for the house. As though it's impossible for someone to spend time researching something that's important to them without shirking all other responsibilities. (I mean, full disclosure, I definitely read and comment on this site when I should be working, but come on!) I feel like we would be so much more help to him than Prudence could possibly be!

By EVie
April 14, 2017 12:09 AM

I found her advice pretty sensible, though not precisely what I would have said (since I'm not a fan of his wife's taste, either, and thus sympathize with him). His "OMG her taste in names sucks and she didn't make a names Power Point, I'm questioning our whole marriage" reaction is rather histrionic, and not at all constructive (and if I were her, I would be questioning my marriage, too, if that's how he reacts to aesthetic disagreements). Just because she wrote the names on the back of a grocery list and has a different style doesn't mean she isn't taking it seriously. So I think Prudie was right to tell him to take a deep breath and restart the discussion with a more open mind. But I think it's also worth noting that the wife needs to have an open mind, too, and they need to reach a compromise together. (There's no indication of how she reacted to his list, or to him flipping out about hers--I often feel these letters are missing critical information). I also didn't like Prudie's "Bartleby the Scrivener" comments, which I feel deliberately misinterpreted what he was saying in the most unflattering light--he didn't tell us any of the names he likes, and a meaningful literary name could easily be something as unpretentious as Jane or Elizabeth. She really threw him under the bus there. 

April 14, 2017 2:34 PM

I agree about the name examples she used reflecting him in the worst possible light. I will note, however, that the way that she makes up silly names when referring to people in more lighthearted letters, when the writer has not assigned any names, is one of my favourite things about reading this new Prudence's column.

Examples include Esteñabeth, Grenevieve, Michaelwards. (I'll add more if I come across them.)








April 14, 2017 3:52 PM

Now I'm starting to think Bartleby, nn Barto, would be a cool name...

April 14, 2017 4:34 PM

My friend actually has a cat named Bartleby!

April 15, 2017 10:18 PM

Geez--all he needed to say was, "I would prefer not to have this discussion right now".

April 14, 2017 4:24 PM

Hey, a fellow Dear Prudie reader! I actually enjoyed the names she teased him with, especially Enfield Tennis Academy...although she's been more or less dead to me ever since she recommended that some guy smoke pot to relax before a blind date.

When the letter writer said his wife suggested "Polk," I seriously considered that it might be a troll letter. Maybe they don't pronounce it "poke" like I do. But then again, people use names like "Ryder" and "Benton," which sound...well...suggestive to me, so why NOT Polk? I always liked that he was a man of strong principles.

I certainly sympathize with guy, but the idea of preparing a presentation on each name is pretty silly.

April 14, 2017 6:53 PM

I really, really enjoyed Emily Yoffe, and Mallory has her moments. How I feel about NewPru at any given moment depends a lot on the topics of the week. She's great with LGBTQ issues and so-called alternative lifestyle letters, but sometimes I feel like she's way too hard on people. The crib-burning letter and "Miss Samoa" really had me questionning her adivce. But no advice columnist is going to hav every reader agreeing with her every time.

The suggestion of Polk is interesting because it really does make it feel like someone who didn't put in much effort, but it didn't strike me as suggestive as much as just unpleasant sounding for a name, much less a girl's first name. I do pronounce the L, so it doesn't sound the exact same as poke, but even then, I hadn't made the suggestive connection.

And really, how different is a presentation than a spreadsheet? I can guarantee that I'm not the only one here with a "Names I like" spreadsheet that contains several informative columns! I mean, I didn't go as far as making a presentation, but I can see how it would be fun to make one. I'm telling you, he just hasn't found his peeps.

April 14, 2017 7:02 PM

NewPru is only disappointing in comparison to how greatly I enjoyed the Toast. 

I would absolutely be delighted to receive a powerpoint presentation on potential names. In fact, am only wishing that I had thought of it, because we did have presentations on names (also known as "try to sell the other person on your favorites"), but didn't ever make visuals to go with it! Instead, I was scrambling for the voyager and entering names on the fly and pulling up references as I went. So sloppy!

I see her point on the crib... if it's a religious custom to burn the posessions of the dead, if the friend's son died in it, I think the bereaved friend arguably has a strong and immediate claim to it. The fact that her grandfather made it makes it much less of a clearcut case than if it had been a storebought item, but still, I think it's time to hug your kids close and be thankful that you are able to do so, rather than to get grabby about the family heirloom... which, if you felt was extremely precious, shouldn't have been lent out to the friend in the first place. 

April 16, 2017 9:43 AM

But it wasn't the baby's possession! It was lent to him, not given to him! When you lend a crib, you expect some scratches, maybe some teething marks, but you do not expect it to get incinerated. 

I so wish that you had made a presentation because then you could share said presentation with the rest of the class :) I may do that next time I have a baby to name just for the sheer fun of making a name presentation!

April 14, 2017 11:14 PM

Oh, yes, I felt so sorry for the poor Miss Samoa letter writer! I thought the two women might just as easily have said "Miss Ireland" or "Miss Ukraine" and nobody would have thought twice.

But you're right, Mallory's definitely a lot more open to polyamory, in particular, than Emily was.

Speaking of naming, DP had another naming letter just recently where some guy had his granddaughter named after him, but now he had a grandson on the way and wanted the grandson named after him, too, because the granddaughter "didn't count."

(And of course Prudie felt compelled to refer to the unborn grandson as "assigned male at birth.")

I could see where, if the guy's name was Michael and his granddaughter was named Michelle, for instance, he would feel like it "didn't count" just because it wasn't actually the same name. But if nothing else, his word choice was awfully poor.

I really expected Prudie to say he was being s3x1st (thank you spam filter), but she surprised me. She thought he simply identified more with the boy, but I really do wonder if he just wanted a grandchild with his exact same name.

April 14, 2017 11:15 PM

And you're right, a presentation isn't necessarily dumb. I was just picturing him with an actual PowerPoint presentation and found that hilarious.

By mk
April 15, 2017 8:27 PM

I assume it was a fake letter or highly exaggerated for effect. I don't think Polk was actually suggested by her. It's just another "18th" century president name like the reasonable suggestions of Madison and Taylor (picky point: they are 19th century presidents).

if it's a true letter, he/she needs to calm down.

April 16, 2017 9:39 AM

(I was too lazy to check, but I suspected that they were 1800s not 18th century presidents!) And yes, I think that the names were exaggerated, too, but I don't think that the basic sentiment of the letter was at all unbelievable given how often one parent puts in all the effort of coming up with names and how often there is a mismatch of style between parents.

April 15, 2017 10:22 PM

Thank you, Holey. I loved everything about this thread. And yes, Karyn, someone needs to send the poor guy (or gal) to our little corner of the internet! He'll feel much more normal.