Okay, you know how people say to keep a perhaps… controversial name choice a secret until the baby is born? That no one can really talk shit about it, because it's attached to an actual adorable little human being? Yeah, I maybe tried to do the opposite of that. I went with the tactic of bulldozing in my first round draft pick for a boy’s name.
I’m due this summer and have not found out the sex yet. I want to know, and so does pretty much everyone else. And almost EVERYONE thinks I’m having a girl… or should I say… HOPES I’m having a girl. My girl name choice is my mom’s name (shout out to Nancy who is a loyal Lainey reader), but we’ll probably call her Nan for short… or Fancy, because, come on. Now my boy choice… I worked in childcare from the time I was about 14 through most of my twenties, so I have that Teacher thing going. Do you know how many Johns have thrown chairs at me? TOO many. I don’t like having a memory of another child in my head for my son, and I found a name that I LOVE, and that I’d never met a child or adult with. Ready?
I LOVE IT! Close people heard about the name when a child was just a dream to me. Now that dream is in my belly, and hopefully safely in my arms this summer. So, I started bulldozing. Man, people hate the name Grover. My mom’s argument was, “He was America’s UGLIEST president!” My response? “Yes, but STILL PRESIDENT!!” When I told my cousin, she said he’d be hitting on people in a bar in 20 years, but when they heard his name they’d walk away. Not so I say! I’m sure I’ll raise a kind, smart, funny man who will be able to get consensually laid whenever he wants! Oh, and this cousin also pulled this when I said I was writing to you, “I know Duana, she’s a friend of mine, and I’m going to get her to tell you no.” I said, “No! Duana is a name expert and impartial!”
Basically it’s me, three friends, and two clients at my work who are down with Grover. So, I have entertained a couple of other choices. Owen… but it feels like there’s going to be Owens everywhere any minute. And Jonah. I do adore Jonah, and I could see my son as a Jonah.
I also can see an amazing little guy running around and me chasing after my Grover.
You HANG ONTO YOUR DREAMS, woman! Do not back down. Do not rethink this. Name that boy Grover, and tell your cousin (who’s your cousin?) that I said so.
Now, before we get to the meat of the matter, I had to google Grover Cleveland, because as you know, we’re largely Canadian over here. And…is that a known thing, that Grover Cleveland was America’s ugliest president? Am I missing something? HE looks like any old dude in a black-and-white photograph:
Okay. That aside, let’s get real. Yes, you should name your child Grover. Yes, she should, other readers. The whole reason that names are interesting and diverse is because people have different opinions and feelings on names—not just that they want to imbue ‘weird’ characteristics onto their children, but in fact they don’t think the names have the same characteristics you do! Grover is charming, instantly funny, and totally ready to make his mark on the world. I love it.
But it doesn’t really matter if I love it. The whole reason we’re able to have these conversations is because about 50 years ago we decided ‘hey, it’s really, really boring that everyone is named Mary and John, maybe we could diversify a little’. This is a good thing. It means that there are more and more choices, and we all have a responsibility to stretch the bounds of names we consider interesting and useful, or else we WILL wind up with everyone called Owen, regardless of gender.
If you were choosing something that was amazing but tricky to pronounce, like Ignatius, I might feel differently (I wouldn’t). If you wanted to name your daughter Hewlett-Packard, I would have questions. But honestly, to imply there’s something wrong with GROVER? It’s friendly, it’s warm, it’s completely within the range of names we already say. In fact, it’s going to fit so beautifully with all the Declans and Graysons without being part of a trend…that is, until you start the trend.
Guys, don’t just choose names that other people have pre-approved for you. Find names that you love, and they’ll not only sound stylish and right, but will be such a gift to the kids you give them to! Sure, sometimes the name you love is already well-used…but when the only reason to avoid a name is because it’s fallen out of use? Are you kidding me? Riding the wave of names is half the fun of what we’re doing here! It wasn’t so long ago that we were calling people ‘Nikki’ as though it was a serious name! It’s like fashion, where things go in and out of style—except that in this case the person who gets to say what’s in style is you.
I’m so vigorously in favour of this that I’m pounding the keyboard and I’ve chipped my nail polish. Don’t let it be in vain, and don’t doubt your taste. Jonah is lovely, and Owen is fine, but Grover is supreme. It’s unusual, yet so completely wearable.
Let me know if your cousin and I are still friends.