Briton Ian Driscoll and his US-born wife find their usually good Anglo-American relations stretched when it comes to deciding what to call their child
Despite our vastly different cultures, my American wife and I get on rather well. What divides exist are only exposed when we interact with others, rarely with one another.
Take, for example, visiting the doctor. My wife views her physician as a paid professional whose performance should match her pricing. I, on the other hand, in a typically British way, treat mine as a demi-god, only to be troubled in instances of impending death.
If he doesn’t call back with my blood test results I assume I am well, not that he hasn’t done his job or that the results have gone missing. My wife chides me for my insouciance.
Otherwise, we have coexisted peacefully – an Anglo-American alliance with few visible rifts.
Then came the pregnancy. Baby name is fraught with complications, similar to drawing up a wedding invitation list: in-laws must be assuaged; old girlfriends banished; distant relations dredged up.
Somehow we settled on a girl’s name with relative ease – an ease that has not been replicated in the search for a boy’s name.
“Ford,” suggested my wife.
“Everyone in England would think it’s a car,” I responded, wondering why everyone in America wouldn’t.
“Well it works in Ford Maddox Ford,” she said, proudly exhibiting her literary bent.
Yes, I thought, but that’s only because of the alliteration.
“Well, how about Morgan?” demanded the Pennsylvanian from behind the pages of a US baby name book.
I informed her that that, too, was the name of a car company, albeit a small English family-owned producer of classic vehicles. I said it had featured in a television programme in which a famous management consultant told the family that their business wouldn’t survive without drastic change.
“What happened to it?” inquired my wife.
“They ignored his advice and survived,” I said. She saw this as a good omen.
I changed tack and said that no child of mine would share its name with an offshoot of a US banking dynasty, and the two of us retreated into a diplomatic silence on the issue. This lasted a few weeks until one evening she lobbed another set of names across the dinner table.
There was no improvement: it read like a list of provincial English towns. I blackballed them all and asked if she had been studying a road map of Britain. The humour was lost. Instead, she wondered what names were on my list.
I had already spent the previous weeks anticipating her responses to my suggestions. Thomas would be rejected: “Too plain; it’s like Luke, Simon and Peter – all those typically English names,” I had imagined her saying.
Tristan was bound to solicit shrieks of laughter and a comment along the lines of: “You cannot be serious? You are. Ohmygod.”
When I tested the waters I was not wrong. Even Piers, which had momentarily intrigued her, she twisted into local-speak. Rodney, Roderic and Ernest (an appeal to the Hemingway in every American) she dumped into the ever-widening mid-Atlantic abyss.
Now, approaching the birth, we are close to defeat. We have exhausted the suggestions of relatives – all of which foll-owed now very obvious national lines. We have unsuccessfully polled friends across the world and thumbed baby name books from both sides of the Atlantic.
My wife has resigned herself to scouring alumni directories and I the old boys’ lists of long-forgotten English schools. But on one thing we both agree: we now hope it’s a girl.
How Naming Baby Tested My Transatlantic Alliance
Published On Monday, April 11, 2011 By bunda. Under: baby. Tags: baby, blood test results, child, ford maddox ford, old girlfriends, wife