Thursday 27 February 2014

You need to not overthink choosing a name for a child. And you definitely can’t underthink it.

I went early and hard for Alex. I am that predictable that I wanted to call a boy or girl Alex because of Alex Ferguson. Displaying so little imagination should  start some kind of social services investigation. Not many rungs above just calling a baby, baby. I don’t mean like  a nickname like in Dirty Dancing. I mean like it’s name being baby. Because there would have been no imagination in calling something what it was.

We weren’t trying for something that would be quirky or uncommon. That said we didn’t want something that everyone seemed to be called at the moment. For example, I am a big fan of George. But lots of other people got there already. I also ruled out any name that I don’t like someone who has that name. We were down to about five choices then, haha! The joke there is that I don’t like a lot of people.

Woodrow raises the odd eyebrow. I’ve had a couple of “really?”s.

Is it after the American president who achieved much – but was racist, klan racist? The neurotic Jewish director who marries his children? The British politician and writer? The folk singer? The woodpecker? The actor who made his name playing a character with his own name? The animated cowboy?

Well some and none of them. Also, for legal reasons, it should be pointed out that some of those are called Woody and not Woodrow. And she wasn’t any kind of relative – but the fact that to most people looking in she was indistinguishable from an adopted daughter should make it weird enough.

I had Buzz Lightyear as my screensaver on my phone a few months ago. I knew Frank Skinner called his son Buzz after Buzz Aldrin (who was also the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear’s name). I can’t call my son Buzz, I thought, people will think it’s because Frank Skinner did. Because (a) I really care what people think, and (b) no-one would think that. I also didn’t know whether we were going to get a boy or a girl.

Not having a complex pattern of thinking my brain went from Buzz to Woody. And from Woody to Woodrow, which I then floated with my partner. Why go from Woody to Woodrow? Woody is an acceptable name in its own right.

Well this is where the World War I American President (kind of) comes in. Via the source of most good things: the first eight years of The Simpsons. In Bart The Lover Bart creates a fictional love interest for his teacher. He calls the fantasy man Woodrow, inspired by the portrait of American presidents on the wall of the classroom he is serving detention in.

So that’s where my affection for the name comes from. Kind of the American president by the way of a Bart Simpson prank. With a health sprinkling of: Woody the character from Cheers, Woody Harrelson who played – amongst others – Woody in Cheers, the animated cowboy in the Toy Story films. Maybe a dash of neurotic comedian with a slightly questionable lovelife.

A lot of the other Woodys are cool but I’d be lying if I said Woody Guthrie was a part of it.

Anyway, now it’s not about where the influence came from. There’s a new Woodrow/Woody and he’s his own man. Though he does need quite a lot of support right now, admittedly.

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