As I learned yesterday afternoon, the principle of buyer’s remorse also can apply to baby names. The mother who met with me said she’d come to regret the moniker she selected for her bundle of joy. Although I couldn’t help her, I certainly agreed with her assessment. I promised to find an attorney who handles legal name changes, posthaste.
Brunette, petite and pretty, “Kathy” looked to be in her mid to late thirties. If she’d recently given birth, she’d obviously lost all the pregnancy weight. I asked her how I could be of help, and she said: “I need to change my baby’s name, because I made a terrible mistake with it.”
While I don’t do that kind of work, I couldn’t help but ask the obvious: “What’s your baby’s name?”
She sighed before answering: “Pilonidus.”
It had a Greek ring to it, I thought. But the appellation wasn’t one I’d heard before, which surprised me. I thought I knew all the common names, having studied ancient Greek in college and having worked with Athenians in a supermarket as a teenager.
Intrigued, I queried: “What made you choose that one?”
Kathy grimaced noticeably before responding: “It’s embarrassing. I met my son’s father at a nightclub in Crete. That night, I had a little too much to drink and, well, there’s no nice way to put it. Nine months later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I never saw his father again, and I didn’t remember the man’s name. I only knew he was a native. When I gave birth, I wanted to give my son something to remind him of his daddy. I thought: why not a Greek name? At my doctor’s office, I heard one which sounded perfect.”
“Let me guess: ‘Pilonidus’?”
“Kind of,” she acknowledged. “But closer to ‘pilonidal.’ I added the ‘us’ at the end to make it sound more like a Greek man.”
“So, what’s wrong with the name?” I asked. “It doesn’t seem bad to me.”
“Well,” Kathy began, “I never asked my doctor what ‘pilonidal’ meant. As I just found out, it’s not even a Greek word. It’s Latin, and it stands for ‘rectal cyst’!”
I didn’t mean to laugh, but c’mon! After apologizing, I inquired: “How’d you make that discovery?”
“My poor baby told me,” she responded.
Thoroughly confused, I blurted: “Your baby talks?!”
Her response carried more than a touch of indignation. “Of course he talks! In English, Spanish, and now Latin too. He was in his high school Latin class when his teacher told him what his name really means. I feel awful, and I promised I’d get his name legally changed, right away. Obviously, I’ll also have to transfer him to a new high school … where the kids won’t think to call him ‘Assboy’ anymore!”