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What’s in a Name? How Jack became Jack

The "names" list

If you’re like me, you’ve had your future kids’ names picked out since you were a kid yourself. Or, at least I thought I did. Admittedly, the names I loved as a kid kind of lost their luster as I got older (plus, I gave away the good names on my dolls… damn it). But, the point is, I’ve been thinking about baby names for a long time. So, picking out my son’s name should’ve been a piece of cake, right? Wrong. Very wrong.

First of all, it’s not just me that has to pick a name… my husband also gets a say. And as I soon found out, Nate had some strong opinions. He was partial to one-syllable names, and had some negative associations with names I loved (for example, Jude* was out because there was apparently a kid he went to school with named Jude, and that kid was “not cool”). As a writer who has had to name several characters over the years, I could appreciate the negative association that comes from certain names. Also, at one point Nate wanted to name the baby an initial (like, “L,” which I argued would not be a great name), so we definitely had our work cut out for us.

We decided to do what every Virgo/Capricorn couple does in a time of crisis: make a list. Guess what was at the top of the list? Jack.

I always liked the name Jack for its’ rare ability to be both cute, yet commanding, so it would work as a baby name, but also serve him well as an adult. It also brought to mind some of my favorite childhood characters (dreamboat Jack Dawson (pun definitely intended), Jack from Hook, Jack the child that Robin Williams played in the classic 90’s film, “Jack.”) And one of my favorite authors is Jack Kerouac, satisfying my wish to have a literary influence on the name. It also was an homage to my Great-Aunt Jackie, who was warm, funny, classy, and the first person I ever heard curse (at Mary Hart, of all people, who was her neighbor and was blocking her view), so “Jack” would satisfy the Jewish “requirement” of naming someone after a deceased relative.

We both agreed we liked the name, but we weren’t yet convinced. I always thought that when I was deciding my child’s name I would just know that was the one— a “love at first thought,” sort of thing. But, there were other names I liked, and based on his ultrasound picture (ridiculous, I know), Jack didn’t seem perfect. At that point we had decided the middle name, which I knew I wanted it to be an “A” name after my Grandpa Al who had passed away the previous year. Archer was always a contender and when my dad reminded me that one of my Grandpa’s favorite hobbies was “archery,” that just sealed the deal (see, those “a-ha” moments do exist with names!)

And then one day when I was leaving the doctor’s office and headed to work, the song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” came on the radio. Jack’s kicks were pretty sporadic at that point, but once the chorus kicked in, there was no mistaking that I felt an actual kick. Okay, I thought to myself, maybe this is the sign I was hoping for. As I continued the drive to my office, I thought about the fact the company I was working for was True Jack (and yes, it’s named after my boss’ dog, but the dog is really cute and a good boy), and how much I admired my boss as not only a writer, but as a person and father, and how the entire company had rallied behind me when we went through our loss last year. What a beautiful homage, I thought. And then I also realized that the baby’s initials would also be “JAC” (Jack Archer Cornett, for those who literally need it spelled out)… and well, that just made my little OCD heart so very happy.

So, it wasn’t one single “a-ha” moment that convinced us to name him Jack, but rather a bunch of seemingly small moments and reasons. And in the end, it was perfect.

*names have been changed

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