Noooooope this is not the way any of us thought this was going to go. Not one of us. Don’t you lie.
Nobody saw this coming.
About a month ago Lainey really latched onto my suggestion of ‘Truth’ -- and I mean, based on ‘North’ and ‘Saint’, I felt good about that. Some of you suggested names like Sojourn or Sol, the latter of which is a spectacular suggestion and gave me serious pause, I might point out – and my friend Pamela at Nameberry absolutely knocked me out with her suggestion of 'Three'. Three West!
All these names are single syllable, with the exception of Sojourn, but that one fills the *other* requirement of a Kim-Kanye baby name – it’s a bit esoteric and almost falls over with the weight of its meaning.
So that’s what we all thought would happen. That’s what we prepared for. When North and Saint were born, I had all the thoughts in the world. I link to those two pieces specifically because, looking back, both these names grew on me. I liked Saint more than North right off the bat, but I grew to really, really like the pairing.
And now… Chicago.
It’s where Kanye West grew up. It’s the kind of place people love to talk about. It’s Windy. It’s got character.
In isolation, as a name, Chicago is unexpected in a way that kind of works. After all, names like Brooklyn and London and Austin are commonplace now, and I’m the one who’s always pushing names that end in ‘o’ – how different is Chicago from Margo or Hugo? It’s not. It’s unusual, sure, but the more I say Chicago, the more I like it. Not for everyone, but I like it.
It doesn’t seem to fit, however, with the other West children. Like I said, North and Saint are esoteric and whimsical. Comparatively, Chicago is concrete. Chicago is a known quantity. Chigagoans will let you know how they feel, whether it’s a flood of angry emails that are ALREADY IN MY INBOX TAKE A BREATH GUYS IT’S FRIDAY, or headlines like this one, in the Chicago Tribune:
!!!! You get what I’m saying here? Chicago just has more information about it. Less to interpret. It’s markedly different from North and Saint in a way that really surprised me. In a way that ‘Three’ wouldn’t be. My original, very first reaction to this name was, “Well, now they’ll need to have a fourth to kind of balance out that name choice.”
But the plot thickens.
Because of course, her name isn’t Chicago at all.
This came first:
North, Saint & Chi— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 19, 2018
And this was next.
I LOOOOOOOOOOVE her name 😍😍😍😍 hey Chi (shy) https://t.co/Ikd0ay3DsO— Khloé (@khloekardashian) January 19, 2018
Perhaps it’s a matter of perception here. But it seems to me that one minute after her sister confirms they’re going to call her Chi, Khloe Kardashian has to include a pronunciation key!
“Shy”. They’re calling her Shy. Chi. Like Chi-town. As in Chicago.
Not “Chee” the way you would say ‘Chi’ if you were talking about a life force or straightening iron.
Not “Chai”, which after much fevered research is not the way people pronounce the Chi in ‘Chi-Town’. (I wish you could see the panicked emails I am firing at Sarah right now. Maybe I’ll publish them later like a supplement.)
Not “Shi” like the start of the actual word Chicago.
Not “Chi-” like the start of the word ‘chicken’.
I’ve stared at these three letters so long they have ceased to have all meaning. Chi. Chi?
My brain hurts with trying to turn this one over and over so hard. I’m having an identity crisis.
North, Saint, and Chi (Shy?). Sure. Those sounds absolutely go together. It’s what we were all thinking would happen, in terms of the esoteric and syllable-based names that I freely admit I came to love. See above, re: ‘Sol’.
And Kanye West is from Chicago.
So they fell in love with a sound which is also linked to Kanye’s hometown, which sounds good with West, and … didn’t think that it might not read the way they wanted at all? When they’re two of the MOST-WRITTEN ABOUT PEOPLE. THAT THERE ARE.
Chicago? Surprisingly good name, and a left turn for these guys. Unexpected. I still think it would be perfect with a ‘partner’.
North, Saint, and ‘Shy’? Good sound-alikes that go well together and fit the style we were looking for.
Chi? Maybe I have to talk myself into it, but in print, I don’t think it achieves either of the above two stipulations.
But am I being too stubborn? Too dense? Lena Waithe’s new show is ‘The Chi’. Pronounced ‘Shy’. And it’s being marketed with the word “Chi” prominently displayed. If you live in Chicago, this pronunciation may be second nature to you and you’re rolling your eyes at me.
And I had a whole argument about how excruciating it was going to be to watch this name be mispronounced in interviews and on red carpets – and then I realized those two don’t really do interviews or red carpets anymore… they don’t have to. They don’t need the promotion.
So maybe it’s not a problem. Everyone who needs to know will know.
But in the space of an hour I’ve gone from being intrigued with Chicago, to almost loving it, to mourning the fact that it won’t be used at all. And I’m a little out of breath, and a little bereft, and I think I need a drink.