The Nose: We’ve gone gaga for baby names, from Adam to Eva

TheNose@thenewstribune.comDecember 13, 2013 

Naming a baby ain’t what it used to be.

Once upon a time, new parents would simply take the name of a favorite biblical figure or spinster aunt and call it a day. A few creative souls might choose the name of the place where their child was conceived (Paris, Sydney, Roy, Wendy’s).

The task was even easier in the really old days — say, 2,014 years ago — when an angel visited an expectant mother and told her what to name her firstborn son.

Nowadays, you must do hours of focus group research to ensure your bambino’s name has a memorable rhythm, looks good on an Ivy League application and plays well in social media.

A baby, you see, is more than a bouncing bundle of joy. A baby is a brand, and it can be set back for life with the wrong product label. No parent wants to doom a child with the birth name equivalent of Crystal Pepsi.

So let’s look at which names are most popular in Washington, according to the annual list released this week by state record keepers.

Sadly, you won’t find any famous Tacomans. Not enough parents named their kids Ivan, Bing, Frosty or Dale (in honor of Chihuly or Washam) to crack the Top 100 list. And Thea might be a nice name for a waterway, but apparently not for a baby daughter.

Here’s a deep statistical analysis from Snores Truly. The rankings of some of the 100 most-used names from last year are included.

 • Presidential names are good for both genders, but Obama’s gotta get his approval rating up to make the list. Top-ranked for boys are Jackson (No. 14), Carter (27), Tyler (58) and Lincoln (77); for the girls, there’s Madison (16) and Kennedy (99). You might even see a his-and her set of twins, what with the popularity of Zachary (boys No. 57) and Taylor (girls No. 65).

 • Names with initials are MIA. Sorry, JZ (the Yelm spiritual channeler) and T.C. (the Tacoma city manager). Maybe next year.

 • Holy palindromes! Many girls have names that read the same forwards and backwards: Ava (5), Hannah (22) and Anna (32). Also popular is a name that can be confusing until you read it backwards: Nevaeh (74). But all the boys’ names are straightforward — there’s nary a Bob or Otto on the list.

 • Must we stereotype children so early? Cars are big for boy names — Hudson (52), Cooper (63), Lincoln (77) and Bentley (79). So are blue jeans — Levi (34) and Ryder (48). Meanwhile, flowers and colors make a strong showing for girls — Lily (21), Ruby (40), Scarlett (44), Violet (47), Jasmine (78), Lilly (82) and Paisley (94).

 • Some parents still want to set their daughters on a straight path by naming them after virtues: Grace (18), Faith (88) and Serenity (95). What about Chastity? Yeah, right. What decade are you living in?

 • Only one Kardashian sister shows up on the list: Khloe (90).

So there’s still some hope for humanity.

Taxicab confessions: Until recent TNT reports, we wouldn’t have guessed Tacoma has strict rules banning taxis older than nine years old. Funny, considering the city keeps some police cars on the road longer than that.

Wonder whose passengers throw up in the backseat more often?

Here comes Mr. Grumpypants: Ever been to a wedding reception where the best man gives an awkward toast? It was kinda like that at the Puyallup City Council meeting the other night.

The Meekerville gang had just said its goodbyes to Mayor Rick Hansen, full of happy praise for the term-limited pol. Then Councilman John Knutsen took his turn at the mike.

Knutsen, the deputy mayor and Hansen’s wingman for several years, ranted for about 10 minutes about the “troubled days” when the two were in the minority.

He rehashed divisions and “mass complaints” under the previous mayor (without actually name-dropping her). He gave credit for city accomplishments to most current/recent council members by name (but left out two).

Of the bad old days, Knutsen said: “I recall a couple employees who had to go to the hospital from stress and abuse.” And he resentfully recalled that he and Hansen were locked out of City Hall except for the 5th floor.

We almost expected him to break into a chorus of the Helen Reddy hit, “You and Me Against the World!”

Wow is right: When Knutsen finally ended, Hansen was left practically speechless for a moment.

“Wow,” he said, before shifting things into a more positive direction.

The city is a family, a choked-up Hansen proclaimed.

True, mayor. And we all know every family has a grumpy uncle.

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