So word came down last week that Nick Lachey (you know—he was in one of those boy bands and then got married to and divorced from Jessica Simpson) and Vanessa Minnillo named their new baby Camden. One can only hope this isn’t part of that trend amongst celebrities of naming their kids after the cities in which they were conceived (see: Brooklyn Beckham and Bryce Dallas Howard) and then, more egregiously, telling the world that said babies were named after the cities in which they were conceived, so that every time you see Bryce Dallas Howard, you wonder which hotel Ron and Cheryl were staying in, and then you think about Opie getting it on, and then you wish you hadn’t, which you wouldn’t have if you didn’t know way more than you need to know about where Bryce Dallas Howard was conceived.
And really, if you’re thinking about making a baby, wouldn’t it make sense to head out for, say, Savannah, Georgia, or maybe Tyler, Texas, or Joseph, Oregon, instead of Camden? What exactly are we paying homage to here? The Admiral Wilson Boulevard? Cheap liquor stores? How are Nick and Vanessa going to explain this to the kid when he’s 12 and asking those sorts of questions? “Daddy hadn’t had a hit record since the ’90s, honey—Camden was the best we could do”? (Hey, at least it wasn’t Chester.) Just to complicate matters further, it turns out that Nick’s old girlfriend Kristin Cavallari and her “fiancé,” Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, just named their new baby boy Camden. Really, Nick and Vanessa? You loved “Camden” so much even that wasn’t enough to discourage you?
I can’t quite figure out when naming your child changed from being a sacred obligation—one where you honored a saint, or perhaps a favorite relative, or even a virtue, like Patience or Prudence—into a form of semi-insane one-upmanship. Was it when Jessica Simpson’s lesser sister Ashlee and hubby Pete Wentz named their son Bronx? When Michael Jackson named his little girl Paris? Or does it reach all the way back to when Bono and wife Alison dubbed a daughter Memphis? Not that there aren’t even worse things than cities to be named for—just ask Banjo, son of Rachel Griffiths and Andrew Taylor, or Moxie Crimefighter Jillette, daughter of Penn and Emily. (My secret all-time fave, though, is Jermaine Jackson’s son Jermajesty.) Perhaps the trend was originally instigated by Frank Zappa, who famously tagged his daughter Moon Unit—a name she still proudly goes by, unlike Zowie Bowie, who eventually begged famous papa David to just call him Joey, please.
I get it—you want a name for your child that’s different and memorable. What child-namers seem to lose sight of is the fact that it’s your damned kid’s name. There are so very many other reasons that your child is going to hate you, eventually—why do you need to add one more, and one as basic as what you and everyone else is going to be calling him or her Every. Single. Day.?
But clearly, I’m in a minority in thinking this way, seeing as Camden was number 160 on last year’s list of America’s most popular boy’s names. (Granted, it was way behind Aiden, Jayden and Brayden, and don’t you just know there’s a set of triplets with those names somewhere out there). And lookee there—the abomination that is Neveah has clawed its way back onto the Top Girls’ Names list. There’s no accounting for taste. I’d just like to state here, once and for all, for the record, that though my daughter’s name is Marcy, she was named for her grandmother, and not for the Bed-Stuy projects where Jay-Z grew up.