The other day I came across an experience I knew I might have only once in a lifetime – I ran into someone under the age of 20 named Tiffany. All of us 80s babies know that we have mega-eternal-exclusive dibs on the name Tiffany. In fact, we’ve also cornered the market on Brittany, Emily, Kelly, Holly, Molly, Amy, Jenny and any other name ending in “Y” (or perhaps in “I” with a little heart over it because that’s just a little bit cooler than “Y”). So on behalf of my fellow “Y”s, (my full name is Bethany, after all) stumbling across this wannabe Tiffany who didn’t even have the courtesy to wear a side-swept pony irked me just a little. Yet when the barista handed over the pumpkin spiced mocha with “Tiffanee” scribbled across it, the world was right once again.
It got me thinking about how the name game changes with the decades. It was terribly easy to name your child in the 80s. If you had a baby girl, you would flip a coin. One side would say “parents’ choice” and the other side would say “Jennifer.” If you had a boy, you just picked your favorite apostle. There was a year in grade school where all three of the school’s Jenny S’s were in my class along with Jenny R, Jenny M, and of course Matthew A, B and C.
If you were born in the 90s, you have no more than one degree of separation from someone named Kylie, Kaylie, Kyla, Keeley, or Kayla. The apostles were still running things on the boys’ side, but the last-name-as-first-namers started to creep into the mix.
If you were born in 00s, you may have been lucky enough to be named Aidan, but later in the decade Pottery Barn Kids sold out of Aidan-embroidered duvet covers so Cayden, Brayden, Jayden and Hayden became the monikers of choice. This was also the decade when conventional spelling went out the window. My good buddy Tiffanee was certainly drinking her mocha with a Jakob, Aimee, and probably even a Marc.
In this decade, no word in the English (or any other) language is off limits. Now that celebrity baby antics rival world news, creative nomenclature has been turned on its head. Cities, inanimate objects and adjectives are on the rise and the Beverlys, Barbaras, Bettys and even Bethanys of earlier decades are shaking their heads as the apostles lose ground to the Greys and Brooklyns and Cullens.
With baby name tomes quadrupling in size and no option too unusual, I’m comforted in the knowledge that my future children will live in a world where their name won’t always be followed by an identifying last initial – and most importantly, where the banana-fana game will never get old. What is your favorite name fad?