Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Behind the Name

We didn’t get the question so much from friends and family, but in the hospital several of the nurses asked where we got the name Fox and more than one asked if this was a family name. As to the latter: no, not at all. To the former…that’s a bit more involved.

Now Karla might have her own take on this ‘cos we’ve never really worked out an official explanation, though we’ve both riffed one that’s as correct as anything else when asked on the fly and the other just smiled and nodded and went with it. There are several reasons based on certain interests we have. We knew we didn’t want a conventional name. She had vetoed Ernest William Gladstone IV early on (which is good ‘cos I’d have called him Quart) and naming the boy after her father (Joseph Anthony) was taken care of by her older brother. Honestly, we’ve been debating various boy and girl names for years, long before we knew about the baby’s gender, that we were having a baby, that we were planning on a baby or if we’d ever even have one at all. I think I can honestly say that one year ago right now we were just as close to never having children as we were to this little blue bundled button rider lightly snoring next to me on the couch. But that’s getting way, way off the point of this post.

Please don't name me something stupid like Moon Unit.

So, as I said, for a good two years we’d submitted and rejected names to each other. I was dead set on Sailor (for a boy or a girl) and Karla fought it with a bazooka. Also, my suggestions of Simon, Bernard and yes, even Heathcliff, were all swept to the side as invalid possibilities. She didn’t have too many of her own, but I shot down a couple out of spite. There, I said it. Everyone knows I’m a jerk so no big surprise. Anyway, after we knew we were expecting, we took a Sunday afternoon and she sat down with the baby name book “Beyond Jennifer and Jason” and I logged onto www.behindthename.com (both of which I’ve used over the years to find names for characters in my stories) and we just went through the possibilities in both genders. Fox was the only boy name we readily and instantly agreed on. So, if for no other reason, that’s the reason.

But we didn’t want his name to just be a few letters placed just so without any thought to it, especially when it’s something that is unconventional. “Why did you name me Faucet, daddy?” Well, son, because I’m an idiot. So you see, Fox also worked for us for a number of other reasons. The main one is that we’re both very much environmentally minded. We’re members of the NRDC and Humane Society and we contribute what we can when we can to support animal rights and saving the habitats, etc of threatened creatures. And I’ll end my soapbox rant right there. So there you have that and to give it a bit more oomph, there’s a little gray fox that’s been living out in the small wooded area behind our house for at least a couple of years now. I don’t see him very often, but when I do I’m smitten with him and we stare at each other for awhile with what I like to think is a mutual understanding. I throw scraps of whatever I think he might like out in his general direction and tell myself I’m helping him (or maybe just the skunks) out on a cold winter’s night, much like this one (tonight he just got some old moldy bread--sorry, dude).

And that reason right there, or a whittled down/varied version of it, is what we’ll throw out to folks typically….well, if they seem like they’re interested. My family just assumes I'm insane and make decisions at random or for no other reason than to just be different. And that's ok for them to think that, even if it's completely wrong. But regardless, back to topic, our first nurse the night before Karla delivered was from Belize and she was thrilled by our reason. Man, she ruled. Anyway…

There are also pop culture references here. A very glaring one is of course Fox Mulder from the X-Files. Most folks who’ve made an association usually make that one. We’ve been big fans in our time, and while we still enjoy the show, it’s probably the lowest reason on the list right before we get down to reasons why NOT to name him Fox...like Fox News. Again, I’ll set aside my soapbox.

But one pop culture reference that very, very much plays in is the tune “Fox in the Snow” by Belle & Sebastian from their 1996 (really, so long ago???) album “If You’re Feeling Sinister.” If you don’t know it, you should and if you don’t like it, you’re wrong and just so you’ll know what I’m talking about, here’s the link: http://play.napster.com/track/25927884
Points to Kat for being the only person to ask if that was the reference point. Also, this is the very first song Fox heard (post womb), but more on that in my next post.

We’d have possibly used the name Fox even if he’d been a girl, though we also had another name, which I think Karla has now nixed.

Ok, but what about that middle name?

The middle name took a bit longer and was only decided on for sure less than a month ago. In fact, I believe while she was delivering (or rather being delivered) I whispered in her ear, “Is it still Ewan?” She laughed and said yes.

Karla wanted something Scottish because like me she’s an Anglophile and especially likes Scotland. This also follows ‘cos of my heavy Scottish heritage. An early choice was Layne, which may or may not be Scottish, but is family as it was my father’s mother’s maiden name. We stuck with that for awhile before she decided she didn’t like it and I was cool with that. And so the search was on in full and we both spent quite a bit of time looking things up and exploring and pondering and such. We knew we had to throw out any “A” names ‘cos of the initials (you put it together), which is rotten ‘cos we both liked several “A” names like Alister and Aristotle (ok, that’s a joke). Graham was thrown out there and Ivor and Callum, etc, etc but at the end of it all, we sort of whittled it down to Ewan or Ian. Now Ian would definitely have been one of my name choices in college and in my 20s for reasons that are obvious to most of you (and I’m not going to explain it to the rest), and for those very reasons I was very wary of going along with it. For similar reasons Ewan was a questionable choice because of Ewan McGregor, whom we both like a lot. But ultimately, a name isn't owned by anyone, it's just something you call someone who is an individual and it in no way defines them as a person. I told Karla I was happy with either one and so it was Ewan. I dig it. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m saying it right ‘cos the guy applying her epidural kept saying, “Ewing? Like Dallas?” Argh, no! But I do tend to mumble sometimes, especially when I’m tired and my wife is nervous and contracting and having a wire shoved into her spinal cord.

Groovy answers, I'll let you sleep through the night.
Kidding of course!!!

So, for those of you who were interested, there you have it. And for those of you who weren’t, too late, you’ve already read it.

Boo-ya and out!


osj said...

wonderful post(s) guys. i'll tell michelle to back off now.

Amber said...

These posts are the best! He is sooo precious. You are not playing too much Morrissey for him are you? Remember...he is helpless at this point. :)

lovely dear juanita said...

i'm loving the posts as well . . . and yes i will back off now. =) i can't believe you found the time in 24 hours to write so much! it's taken me 2 days to read it all! lol. anyways, i'm loving it. your son is gorgeous and i'm totally diggin' his attire - groovy stuff.

you're a wonderful writer by the way. very enjoyable reading. oh - and a fantastic name - we LOVE it! you've explained it well . . . not that you had to though.