There’s been a lot of attention today around baby’s names. Needless to say, when I had my kids, things were much simpler. We took the first letter of the last person who died and named the baby after them. What should have been a joyous occasion, however, soon devolved into a giant family stinkpot after Uncle Hy drank too much Manischewitz at the baby naming and got all hissy that the baby was named for Uncle Simon instead of Jack, his brother, who he thought deserved the honor much more. I myself had not had any Manischewitz but I did have some well-deserved postpartum craziness so I wondered quite loudly to myself what the big deal was since both Jack and Simon were dead and it was unlikely that either of them could care less.

Years later, parents started to get much more creative with their baby names, and soon we started to have kids named after fruits and vegetables and occasionally tire companies. Then came the trend of naming your kids after the places where they were conceived. This worked fine for little Paris and Aspen. But for those of us with shallower wallets, it was a little less of a popular trend. Had my husband and I done this, my son would have been named “Harrah’s Resort and Casino” and my daughter would be “Back Seat of the Car.”

I was born on Christmas eve. Because of this, all the nurses in the hospital beseeched my mother to name me Merry or Holly or Chrissy or some other name that reflected the spirit of the holiday. Unfortunately for us, we are Jewish so my mother politely declined and named me Tracy instead. It was not a common name at the time, but my mother had a thing for Spencer Tracy and it seemed inappropriate to name her daughter Spencer, so she went with Tracy instead. Looking down at me in my mother’s arms, my father questioned my mother’s decision. She said she was also fond of Paul Newman but thought Newman would be an even stranger name for a girl than Spencer. I guess I should be happy she wasn’t a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock.

I was actually named for my great grandmother, Tilly. Instead of Tilly, which sounded just a bit archaic, they called me Tracy and gave me her Hebrew name, Tobah, as well. For 27 years I told everyone my Hebrew name was Tobah until the day I met with our rabbi in preparation for my wedding. When he asked what my Hebrew name was, I said Tobah. He said there is no Hebrew name Tobah and it must be Tovah, with a “v.” Apparently, somewhere along the genealogy line, that “v” got lost in translation and now I’m actually Tovah? Not Tobah which may only be one letter, but look what it just did to IHOP, or IHOB, as its not known.

I was so disturbed by this revelation that everything I had assumed about my identity was called into question. It’s hard enough to have to clarify to people that my name is spelled Tracy, no E, IE, or I, and it’s not Stacey or Stacy or Terry or Becky without suddenly wondering if my name is really my name or if someone drunk had messed up my birth certificate and my name was really actually Rihanna.

I guess all things considered, it could have been a lot worse. There had been a brief moment, my mother said, that they had actually considered the name Prudence for me which may, in fact, have been the one name worse than Alfred Hitchcock.
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