QUESTION FROM A GREEK TRAGEDY READER [Let’s call her Apple]: This isn’t as serious as your usual questions, but I really want an unbiased opinion, so here goes…
At my best friend’s daughter’s 1st birthday party I announced to her that I had created the PERFECT baby girl name (for my yet-to-be-conceived child). Merilee, a quirky spelling of Mary Lee. She agrees it’s a fabulous name and then mentions that Mary Lee is her grandmother’s name, and we all joke about how I’m naming my 1st born daughter after her grandmother (who isn’t a favorite in her family and circle of friends). Fast forward 8 months and my friend is pregnant. Me? Still no kids. She informs me via text that she and her hubby have decided to name the baby after her Grandmother and they’re going to spell it…. Wait for it… Merilee.
Seriously?! So, does this fall under some sort of ‘girl code’? Are there etiquette rules for this kind of thing? Do I have to go with the flow because it’s a family name? Or can I call "shotgun" because I thought of it first?
I know this certainly falls in the "silly/petty" category but I just wanted your opinion.
Before I take a smack + crack at answering this (and I will), I’ll let others weigh in with their own words of wisdom. Floor’s all yours…
…As promised, let’s go there. The fact that your friend texted you this news isn’t a random act of rudeitude. It’s Pulling a Warner. That’s right, she basically invited you to a fancy restaurant, so you couldn’t make a scene after she dumped your pink stink for a Jackie O’ type. She intentionally sent you a text to avoid the confrontation. She knows you’re not going to like it. She also knows that she’s rationalizing her actions. That is, deep down she knows that what she’s doing is flying-monkey-wrong. It’s why she chose to communicate the way she did, and if you ever called her out on it, she could simply turn things on you, making you out to be the crazy obsessive petty one in your friendshit.
"Jesus, I didn’t think twice about it because it’s not your name. Why else would I casually text it to you? If it were a big deal, don’t you think I would’ve talked to you about it in person? What kind of person do you think I am?" Your answer: the baby plagiarist kind.
Piss poor behavior aside, let’s deal with the rest of it. You’re not going to like what I have to say next. First, and this is really an aside, as the name you chose doesn’t change the behaviors and actions at play, yet I feel compelled to rain on the Merilee parade. Don’t go naming your kids with unusual spellings. Because they have to go around, for the rest of their lives correcting paperwork, using the military alphabet to communicate the proper spelling to customer service operators, and correcting mispronunciations when idiots butcher the name to "Mer-eye-lee." And no one is going to read that name and think it says "Mary Lee." For her whole life, she’ll be called "Merrily" which, admittedly, isn’t as bad as "Merry," which immediately brings to mind a bouncy fraggle muppet, that or a rotund elderly man in a red velvet track suit–pick your poison. I’d butcher my parents if they’d squeezed an f into my name. Stefanie can’t tell someone her own name without adding, "with an f." No good can come of it.
Sidebar: a friend recently told me that a child in her daughter’s class was named "L-A." How would you go about pronouncing this name? Go on, try. "El-aye?" "Ella?" No. Correct pronunciation: El-dash-ah. "The dash ain’t silent" her mother barked at the teacher.
Off the sudsbox, let’s return to the facts. You need to ask yourself what upsets you more: the principle of it or the fact that your name has been nabbed up, leaving it less unique? Because the truth is, you don’t know for certain if you’ll even have children, or a girl for that matter. And if you do, there’s still nothing stopping you from using Merilee, you know, aside from common sense. That was a joke.
Bottom line, I’d talk to her. I wouldn’t accuse her of anything. I’d ask her why she decided to text you that? I’d ask her if she remembered that it was the baby name you’d created. I’d try to give her the benefit of the doubt (even though, personally I wouldn’t buy it–I’d pretend to be fair). Then I’d tell her how you feel. That you feel angry, swindled, duped. Whether it’s true or not, it’s how you feel. And you’re hurt that she could be so casual about telling you, or not even realizing what a big deal it is to you. After I got that out, I’d tell her that you realize you might not even have a girl, so she can do what she’d like, but it certainly won’t stop you from using the name one day if you do have a wee girl. Then I’d hand her a copy of the best baby name book I know: the Pottery Barn Catalog.
GOT QUESTIONS? NEED ADVICE? If you have questions or need advice on anything from where to eat to how to get over the bastard, just email your question to my advice email address. Nope, I’m not a shrink, but since people keep asking for my opinion, I might as well share it and air it, so everyone else can weigh in too.