A Rhino By Any Other Name

Juliet, while trying to problem-solve the fact that she has fallen madly in love (within the space of five minutes) with her family’s mortal enemy, declares that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

A few hundred years later, another heroine begs to differ.

Anne looked thoughtful. “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose would be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage” (Chapter 4).

As previously mentioned, I’m a wee bit obsessive about names and am simultaneously delighting over this excuse to obsess and panicking over the responsibility of finally nailing it down to that One Right Name. After all, I wouldn’t want to inadvertently pick a skunk cabbage for my progeny!

I was jotting down a list of actual possibilities (taking out the names I’ve always liked but wouldn’t actually pin on a child, at least not with my last name) and realized that while I could name a Duggar household full of girls that I had very few boy names that actually made the cut. And so, I pulled out The Very Best Baby Name Book in the Whole Wide World and a helpfully condensed volume, Bring Back Beatrice, and began reading. After a while, I handed BBB to Ryan and asked if anything jumped out at him.

Here’s BBB‘s schtick: It’s a compilation of good, solid names that the author felt deserved another look (like Beatrice) because they’d fallen out of popularity. No trendy Frankennames. And then, to spice things up, every so often there’s a little sidebar of off-the-wall names in a given theme — for example, So You’d Like to Name Your Child After an Egyptian God. Or So You Want Your Child to Sound Russian. As anticipated, Ryan gravitated (with a goofy gleam in his eye) to the most oddball options, suggesting all kinds of wonderful ideas.

“How about Salvador?” he asked.

Now, while it might not be immediately obvious to anyone outside of our immediate family, “Salvador” is basically the best name ever, because of one of the best movies ever, Midnight in Paris:

“I love it!” I replied. “Salvador Rhinoceros Baker! We have a winner!”

And then, because it seemed like an excellent idea at the time, I decided to share our comedic genius with Facebook.

If you’re a parent or a soon-to-be parent, you may have heard or read the advice that you should never share your baby name possibilities with anyone else. It turns out that is VERY TRUE. Not only did our friends think we were serious about naming a child Salvador Rhinoceros, they hated the idea and didn’t mind telling us so in very clear terms!

Salvador Rhinoceros

So… that was kind of funny. I couldn’t believe anyone would think we were serious. Worse, I couldn’t believe that anyone thought we were serious and, believing that, felt comfortable being so critical! Maybe it’s the Southern in me, but if I thought a parent seriously loved a name, I’d pretend to like it too, to their face. (Which I suppose is a dumb thing to worry about, since I was the dummy who asked for opinions.) Anyway, it didn’t matter, because we didn’t like the name in the first place. We had a good laugh, and moved on.

And then Ryan found the Egyptian names. Suddenly, we were entertaining the possibility of a Khufu Baker. Khufu was a pharaoh, but the name makes me think of the mummy in a crazy board game called Atmosfear. I nixed the idea, and then Ryan moved on to — wait for it — Ozymandias.

What a name, right? History! Poetry! Power! Philosophy! Superhero (er… villain?) reference! Fantastic nickname options! Not going to require a last initial in grade school! What’s not to love?

Apparently… a lot.


The funny thing is… when I first posted this, it was a joke. But the more people hated on the name, the more I was like — hey, wait. I actually kind of liked that. It had a certain sort of potential. I mean, not serious potential; if I’m going to cross Elwood off my list, I sure don’t have the guts to saddle a little boy with Ozymandias. But I might have. Oz is an awesome name. Ozzy is an awesome little kid name, Osbournes be damned (ha ha). And heck, it’s not as if Ryan and I are likely to have a Joe Average child who has to worry about the popularity rating of his name lest he run the risk of not making Homecoming Court.

My amusement at the horror inspired by Sally Rhino developed into a slightly sour taste in my mouth after all of the Ozymandias comments, so I guess I’ve learned the lesson I thought I already knew: DO NOT ASK PEOPLE WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT NAMES. They can all just wait until the birth certificate is signed. So there. 😛

Postscript: I went back and re-read the comment threads, and actually — people weren’t actually that negative about Ozymandias, were they? I think I must have still been a little touchy over Salvador and I let it bleed over into Ozzy! Oh well. It’s still kind of funny.


2 thoughts on “A Rhino By Any Other Name

  1. My only problem with Salvador was that I thought it implied an ethnicity to which your baby couldn’t rightfully claim, but beyond that I found it splendid. And I could totally see myself affectionately calling someone Salvadork, but then I do use dork as a term of endearment.

    I had to Google Ozymandias, but I blame my lack of a college education on that one. Personally, I love Ozzy. I’m a sucker for classic/throwback names (Ozzy and Harriet, anyone?), and also I think the letter Z can use a little love (outside the name Zoe which has been a little overdone recently.)

    Names are fun 🙂

  2. “Oz”, I like, “Ozzy”, I like. “Ozymandias” makes me sad for the learning to write one’s name and the standardized test forms. (And don’t take Tim too seriously, he has a small stuffed Ozzy figure as a mascot for his car!)

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