Sunday, December 2, 2007

What's in a name

Starting on the bunny hill of the unanswered questions ...

Eric asks, "You've mentioned where you got Cady Gray's name from, but what about Archer's?"

I'm rather attached to my surname, Bowman. It's not that I think it's particularly beautiful, or even that it points to a distinguished ancestry of which I'm proud. Mostly it's that I was 31 before I got married, giving me a relatively long time to envision a career and develop an identity connected to my last name that I was loath to relinquish upon marriage. So I kept my name.

When we were expecting our first child, I was happy to agree that his surname should be my husband's. But I wanted him to be named after my side of the family as well. I don't remember which of us happened upon Archer as a first name, but we both knew immediately it was an inspired solution. Not only was it a synonym for my family name, but it was also a reference to my favorite filmmakers, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger -- the Archers.

The name has the advantage as well of being extremely uncommon -- it hasn't cracked the top 1000 male given names in the U.S. baby names in the last century. Its chief disadvantage is related; many people mishear or misread it as "Arthur."

Archer seems to like his name -- he certainly proclaims it loudly and with precise articulation. Cady Gray is enamored of hers as well -- most of the time when we call her a pet name, she rejects it with a happy grin: "No! I'm Cady Gray!" What may happen when they grow up and have choices about what they will be called and whose name they will take on, I don't know. But I hope they remain as proud of their names, first and last, as I am of mine.

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