Petersen: What to name the baby
Harry and Harriet, cattle ranchers, were about to have their second child. The question became: What to name the baby.
Sometimes a serious name, chosen with love, can turn into an embarrassing nickname that sticks to the child forever. So, Harriet and Harry thought and thought. They researched first names from practically every culture on the planet. They googled baby names on the Internet. They studied list after list. They wanted perfection in all ways.
Their first child was just four and he’d been christened Richard, a traditional, comfortable name that could only be shortened to Rick or Ricky. Unfortunately, the kids in Ricky’s preschool class had turned that straightforward moniker into Icky Ricky.
Harry and Harriet determined their second child would not be saddled with that kind of embarrassing handle. After they learned the newborn was going to be a boy baby, they instituted an even more intense search for a perfect name. They made up names, harvested surnames from baby books, tried dozens of sobriquets sounding them out for unpleasant nickname possibilities.
They’d articulate one name all of one day, then switch to another on the following day. They tried out Willard but decided Willard was too apt to turn into a Willy — which could degenerate ever further into “Willy-nilly.”
They tried out the sturdy western title, “Buck,” but realized that label unfortunately had built-in rhyme possibilities. What about Ames, Harry wondered, but then changed his mind that “Ames” might turn into “Amy” — not a good thing to hang on a boy.
“Austin” got a thumbs down as that could turn into “Aussie.” “Blaze” was out of the question since that was the name of one of their quarter horses.
The couple’s meal-time conversations turned into marathons of discussion on what to call the baby. Even little 4-year-old Ricky took part. He became more and more thrilled at the thought of a baby brother and even offered a couple of possible names. Ricky thought Rover would be just right as that was the name of the ranch Border Collie.
Going through an alphabetized list of names became a pastime as well as an entertainment. Finally, the choice for a distinguished name for a boy was decided. He would be christened: Montgomery. Harriet thought the appellation fell off the tongue with an almost musical cadence.
Harry agreed and, he declared, if a nickname happened, well, it would be “Monty” which was okay. Nothing silly or wussy about that. It was strong and suited both a boy and the man he would eventually become. Harry and Harriet shared the name with little Ricky who smiled, nodded, and for the rest of the remaining, pregnancy, 4-year old Ricky bragged on his little brother, Monty, who lived in Mommy’s tummy.
Inevitably nine months passed and culminated in that final moment. Harry drove Harriet to the hospital where she gave birth to a fine healthy boy. A few days later the proud parents took their new son, Montgomery, home and tenderly placed him in a bassinet. At that moment, an excited Ricky entered the room, dashed to the bassinet and gazed downward. For some moments, he remained silently gazing at his new brother. Then a huge beaming grin stretched across his face. Leaning over, almost kissing baby Montgomery, Ricky shouted,
“HI, YA, GUMMY!” ❖