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Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Midtown Humanity On Parade, Vol. 2

Submitted by on May 29, 2007 – 5:48 PM333 Comments

Little girl: Hi Mom, so guess what, at school today, after lunch? Dylan? Got a nosebleed.

Mom: Which Dylan?

What I love about that exchange: 1) to a child, a classmate’s nosebleed is above-the-fold, 48-point-type, no-time-for-pleasantries breaking news; 2) the child in question has more than one “Dylan” in her class. What I love even more is how these two aspects become one, because from now on, the Dylan who got the nosebleed is…the Dylan who got the nosebleed. If Dylan invites this little girl to a pool party, her mother will no longer ask “Which Dylan?” or “Dylan R. or Dylan J.?”, but rather, “Dylan who got the nosebleed?”

I have now typed “Dylan” so many times that it looks misspelled.




  • Jessica says:

    I was in a small enough town that the 3 or 4 other “Jessicas” my age followed me from kindergarten all the way to graduation. I can only imagine some of the labels I acquired through the years with parents and friends. :P

  • Jennifer says:

    Out of all of my ex-roommates named Jess, one of them is now forever to my mother, “The dumpster diver Jess?”

  • K says:

    Ha, that’s awesome! The funny part is, people constantly tell little kids not to worry about that stuff, that people forget, but really? At the ten year high school reunion, he’ll be Dylan With The Nosebleed. Like Bruce Who Doesn’t Pee-Pee in the Sandbox, from the Ramona Quimby books.

  • Yubi Shines says:

    There was a boy named Jasper in my kindergarten class who kept getting nosebleeds. I was told at the time it had something to do with eating corn.


  • Jennifer says:

    Ah, Dylans of the world today, join us Jennifers in the grand parade of “there’s FOUR of you in my class?! Well, everyone has to go by their middle names… you’re ALL named Jennifer Lynne? Well, forget it then!”

    Seriously, my poor parents actually picked Jennifer because they thought it was unusual. They live under a rock in Siberia. (Actually my dad likes to fly and named me after the Jenny airplane–the one printed upside down on the stamp. Cool, huh?)

  • Sars says:

    Graduating class of 48, and I was one of three Sarahs. There were also three Jennifers, four Katherines of various spellings, and four Elizabeths. Unless the person calling me says “Sarah B.” or “Bunting,” to this day I tend to assume s/he isn’t talking to me.

    It happened again on the TWoP staff; at one point we had three Sara(h)s, three Jo(h)ns, three Daniels, and two Davids. …Shit, and two Jeffs too.

    But some of the parents in Brooklyn go a little overboard in the other direction. Don’t be naming a baby girl “Mingus,” people, goddamn.

  • Brigid says:

    First of all…love the name Dylan. One of my friends named her daughter, age 8 months, Dylan, and everyone assumes she is a he…until they see her of course.

    As far as the multi-names thing goes…my WoW guild (yes, major geekdom, I know) there are 13 Jeffs out of 140 members. That’s nearly a 10% Jeff-rating which…wow. I had no idea Jeff was such a popular name.

    On the other hand, I have never met another Brigid myself, although I have had people tell me they “know someone with that spelling.” The fact that my middle name is Day (yes….like the opposite of Night) makes me hate my parents even more. :-)

  • steile futura says:

    My suspicion is that 85% of all Dylans are under five years old and living in Park Slope, hence the high quota. Another, much creepier, suspicion is that “Bowie” might be next…

  • MaggieCat says:

    In 13 years of public education, there were never less than 3 boys named Matt in any and every class I attended. Bunches of Lindseys, Ryans, and Marks. So many Jasons, Sara(h)s, and Katies that I lost count. (You don’t even want to know what a certain Ryan K. did to become “Not THAT Ryan?” to many parents. Hee.)

    Only one other Maggie, and she was two years behind me. Thank you Mom.

    It almost makes up for being named after a dog she adored. Although not quite so much for the fact that I knew at least 4 people whose mothers were named Maggie. But she did talk my father out of naming me Fanny, so we’ll call it even.

  • At my schools, there were so many Michelles that we actually had to differentiate one in particular as “Michelle the White Girl Who Had A Baby.” As opposed to the Hispanic Michelles who had babies and the white Michelles who didn’t, I guess. Welcome to Texas, where the cliches perpetuate themselves.

    And don’t even get me started on all the Marias, Joses (including two Jose Trevinos), Jesuses, and Jesses. In conversation it was nearly essential to know last names and, in some cases, what streets people lived on.

    Now that my husband is at community college, they’ve solved the Multiple Joses In One Class issue by rechristening them as Jose and Hose-B.

  • Emily says:

    There were four other Emilys in my year at school, all the way from grade 1 to 12, and since we were all the extra-credit, honours-English-class kids, we shared a lot of the same classes.

    Then there was the one whose mother got the spelling of her name legally changed to “Emmalee” for her sixteenth birthday because she’d been spelling it that way since the seventh grade, anyhow.

    Most. Useless. Gift. Ever.

    Also I really didn’t see the charm of using the most hill-billian alternate spelling possible.

  • Isabelle says:

    Ha! My dad and mom are American and French, respectively, and so wanted a name that was pronounced similarly in both languages. As a kid, I used to hate my name, I wanted to be something “normal” like Lisa or Amy. But then as I grew up, I started to really appreciate that I was the only one, so I’ve never had to be Isabelle W. or Isabelle-with-the-nosebleed (in the States; in France it’s actually pretty common name). But now, it’s apparently becoming a fashionable name, and on more than once I’ve jumped and obeyed in a store or somewhere when a stern grown-up voice says, “Isabelle! Put that down, NOW!”
    Name trends are so odd.

  • Sarah says:

    I sympathize with Sars. There were three other Sarahs in my elementary school, and my best friends were Katherine, Jessica, and Elizabeth.

  • JMR says:

    I went to Brandeis, which has about a 50% Jewish population, and it seemed like 90% of the graduating class had an Old Testmanent name – David, Daniel, Joshua, Jacob, or Aaron; or Rachel, Rebecca, or Sara(h). Everyone had nicknames based on some distinguishing characteristic, because it would have been hopeless otherwise. My favorite nickname was was Dan the Jew, the joke of course being that “The Jew” narrowed the field of Dans down exactly not at all.

  • Tom says:

    Better “Bowies” after all the Dylans than “Boz”s. ;-)

  • Tracy says:

    Growing up, there was only ever one other person who had the same name as me, and we were never in the same class. Then a couple of years ago, there were four of us at work. It got very confusing when it came to answering overhead pages.

  • Genny says:

    I don’t think I ever had really high numbers of the same name in classes of mine, but I remember Sarahs, Katies and Chris’s having to get distinguishing initials. Of course as a Genevieve (which has recently become more popular, somehow, but 20 years ago was still unusual) I just got endless nicknames by teachers too lazy to properly pronounce my name. I’ll still respond to anything that starts with a “g” sound including Geneva, Guinevere (I… people can’t read), Gen, Genny, Jennifer and the like.

    I’ve already decided that all my daughters are getting named after Saints and possibly female deities of the ancient world. They’re sure as hell not getting named Madison, I’ll tell you that much.

  • Emily (not the one who already posted) says:

    Class of ’48? Hee!

    I was the sole Emily of my age (read: not Dickinson or Post or some other ancient) that existed in what I was convinced to be THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE until my junior year in high school. When I received notification of the identities of my freshman roomates in college, and one of them was another Emily, I figured that Cornell was being particularly astute in roomate assignments. That they would place the only two Emilys on the entire campus together (as we would undoubtedly be the founding members of the Horribly-Put-Upon-Yet-Are-Trying-To-Break-Free-Of-Our-18th-Century-Names Society) surely meant that they hadn’t noticed that I was not qualified to attend. Silly freshman.

    I think it’s hilarious that the name Emily is recently so popular. And, yes, the Horribly-Put-Upon Society still exists. We wear white with blue pinstripes.

  • Claire says:

    Yeah, I teach on a team at a middle school for Hispanic ESL learners, and I have four Christians, four Luis’s, three Marias, three Jennifers, and two Marianas. To top it off, two of my Luis’s have the same middle and last names, even, so we can’t distinguish them by saying Luis G. and Luis C. or whatever. When the teachers talk about the students, we have to call the the Good Luis and the Bad Luis in order to know whom it is we’re talking about. I thought I had it bad in sixth grade trying to remember which Brian was Brian S. and which one was Brian G. Yeesh!

  • C. says:

    Don’t have any interesting stores about myself to tell, but, this whole thread reminded me of this cool article about why baby names go in and out of fashion:

    (Short answer: Because people want to be rich.)

  • merijenben says:

    So, I’m a Youth Librarian, and kids come up to the reference desk all the time to sign up for computers.

    The name that needs to go away right now? Ashley. or Ashleigh, or Ashlee or one of the other 10 ways to spell that name. Ditto with Brianna and Britney.

    I don’t know what’s worse, the Ava/Hannah/Morgan/Madisons of the world, who will always need to use their middle name — or the two brothers named Anakin and Aragorn, or the twins Neo and Trinity. Or the sisters named Guenivere and Galadriel. Or Chase, Chance and Chastity…. or the family with the last name Gem who named their daughters Diamond, Emerald and Ruby and their son Topaz.

  • Nomie says:

    We had bunches of Emilys, I think because I grew up in Dickinson’s hometown. (Her house? Two blocks from my high school.) And I think there were dozens of Matts. Julia was popular, and Laura/Lauren. Me, I was the only Naomi till high school, and even then there was only one other girl in my class of 350.

  • Rae says:

    My problem with my name was that it sounds like Ray – and there was a Ray in my class who got in trouble a lot, and I always jumped a mile when the teacher yelled “RAY!” all angry-like. The worst was when we had a teacher who was ever-so-slightly wall-eyed, so it was hard to tell exactly who he was looking at, and Ray was sitting behind me. I’d keep hearing my name and looking up to see the teacher apparently glaring at me. It was terribly disconcerting (especially when I was stealth-doing something I wasn’t supposed to, and was wondering if he’d caught me).

  • Sars says:

    I like the comeback of the older names — “Vivian” is overdue for a resurgence — but that has its limits too. “Bertha” fell out of fashion for a reason, I think, and “Obadiah” is a lot of name for an infant.

    But everything comes back around. My grandmother’s friends were all named Louise and Miranda and Edith and Dorothy; almost nobody our age was. Now people our age use those names more often for their own children (including Mabel; I never thought I’d see the day, but here it is), but my mother’s friends are almost all named Barbara, Carol, Nancy, Susan, or Joan, and you really don’t see those anymore…but I would bet the next generation rediscovers those.

  • Taunja says:

    One thing I never had a problem with was other people having my name … well, not until the Internet came along (even now it’s only 4 Google pages and most of them are about a serial killer victim).

    Getting a billion different pronunciations and spellings, now THAT was an issue. Always could tell when a new teacher got to my name on this list on the first day of class–it was the sudden silence as they struggled to figure out how they were going to pronounce it.

  • Melissa (1 of 2) says:

    Well, I’m now six month pregnant with our first child (a girl!) and I tell you, this naming thing is not easy. You want something pretty, but not too common, something not too weird, I want it spelled NORMALLY, and my husband has to like it. We’ve come up with two names since we found out it was a girl : Hannah (sorry, it sounds kind of old fashioned to me and hubby is anti-Lorelai) and Ariana. This is hard.

    Suggestions from family so far: Zombie, Post-mortem (my brother is a freak), Darby, McCrakin, McCrackin Postin (God, I don’t know), Louita and Fondle. My MOM suggested McCrakin postin. It is kinda fun to tell people you’re naming you kind Fondle Postin McCrakin, though. People get some great expressions. Heh.

  • Kate says:

    Yep, I was one of about 18 Katherines, and until I wormed my way free in college and announced to every new person I met that my name was “Kate,” everyone called me Katie. I had another friend Katie, who was a year younger, and just one of those delicate bird-like creatures. Compared to me in all of my Polish-heritage glory, they called me “Big Katie” and her “Little Katie” and I’m pretty sure nobody could have imagined the psychological damage that could have done to a developing pre-teen. And to this day, my mother insists that she thought she was being so original with the name “Katherine” ha!

  • Susan says:

    Heh. I wondered when someone would mention the name Susan. I’m close to the only one I know, in my generation or anyone else’s.

    This is making me happy that I don’t want kids. It’s hard to walk the line between “name that almost certainly won’t acquire trendiness” and “name that will get your kid beaten up at school.”

  • Tobias says:

    God, there were TEN Christophers in my grade. And we couldn’t even be known by last initial, because there were three Chris M.s, too. Oh, and when we had to initial our flash cards in second grade math (which, by the way, had SEVEN of the TEN Christophers?), we Chris Mattern and I couldn’t even differentiate with middle initials, which really, REALLY sucked, because Chris Mattern is, I think, the only person from my public school career (who was not a teacher) that I legitimately, actually hate.

    But hey! All of us were known by last name, except for one or two who got full names. And Squirrel. Don’t ask, because I don’t know. I think it has something to do with how much he was able to stuff in his cheeks at some point in middle school, but don’t hold be to it.

    (Also, almost four years out of high school, I still have issues realizing that Chris is ME, sometimes, because my LAST name is my name. Except when my name is Tobi, but that’s another story entirely.

  • Jennifer says:

    Yeah, like you never hear the name Mary past a certain age group. I never thought of it as particularly old fashioned, but I can’t think of many people my age or younger with that name (except when it’s hyphenated, like Mary-Louise Parker or some such.)

  • Sonja says:

    My name is somewhat uncommon, enough so that when I hear another person say it, even someone on TV. I jump (justalittle), spooked and feeling guilty.

  • Bronwyn says:

    I’ve been pretty lucky with doubling up. I was the only child born after my Grandad died so my parents wanted a Welsh name to honour him. I’ve been pretty happy with Bronwyn, in all my schooling I didn’t come across another until my second year at University and then we only had one lab a week together for one semester.
    I did have trouble when I lived in Germany for a year. The Br- was hard enough, but in order not to be Bron-vin I truncated myself to Bron or Bronte my usual avatar, but now people think I’m a big Bronte sisters fan when I can’t stand Wuthering Heights and only read Jane Eyre last year at the age of 25. Gimme the dinosaur. Brontedaurus all the way.

    My biggest peeve with my name. People who can’t spell. TYes there’s a W in there somewherebut it’s Bron-wyn not BroWNyn. I am not a colour!

  • Lisa says:

    I was always one of at least 4 Lisa’s in my class…hated it…so “ordinary”…and then there’s the fact that nobody over 60 can pronouce it. My garn still calls me Leeezzza… Kills me.

    Then I find out that apparently it is the most common girl’s name in all the english language (all the derivations of the name “Elizabeth” – Lisa, Beth, Betty, Elise, etc…you get the picture)

    Better? My mom thougght she was being original… what?

    Try this story. A friend o mine named her dog Molly, then loved her name so much, she named her daughter Molly. Problem? The dog is still alive. Thus, the dog got a surname. So in her house, when you call Molly, you add a surname- “Molly Walker” or “Molly Smith”. No kidding.

  • Sam says:

    … “Mingus”? MINGUS?!

    That kinda takes the Bad Names cake, I think.

  • Sammie says:

    I managed to get through primary school without anyother Samantha’s an in my highschool there are 2 others (well actually I think one dropped out) and I’ve always been ‘the blonde one” and then eventually because of one my friends penchant for giving cutesy nicknames I became Sammie Sunshine and then everyone started calling me Sammie.

    But I thank god everyday that I wasn’t born a boy. My name? Clark.

    And this is with the Aussie accent too. Cllaaahhhhhk.

    And as for wierd names? The one hat isses me off t no end? Angel. Angel – sure cute little name for a baby , but babies grow up and turn into non-angelic teenagers who hate their mothers for giving them trailer-trashy names.

  • Brigid says:

    To Genny:

    Haha! My daughter is Genevieve (after my rawking great-grandmother) and one of my exes friend loved the name so much that he and his wife STOLE it and named their daughter Genevieve 6 months after OUR daughter was born. At the time, we spent a lot of time with them…thankfully THAT friendship peetered out naturally. Ours goes by Genna to avoid “Jen” but some truly lazy people can’t be bothered with the second syllable and call her that anyway (particularly her 2 grandmothers lol).

    I hope ‘Genevieve’ never has a major resurgence. I like having a kid with a beautiful, old-fashioned, DIFFERENT name….she’s had at least 2 Tylers in her class every year…there are 6 in her grade (out of 80 kids).

  • Sars says:

    Heh: this thread is like therapy. (Anyone remember The SARS Headline Du Jour?)

    (And I was kidding about Mingus, but the fact that it’s believable really says something.)

    I didn’t love “Sarah” growing up, but in the end I have to give it to my parents: it’s a classic, “Sarah D. Bunting” does have a rhythm to it, and I like it when names are paired harmoniously the way mine is, a simple/classic first name with a more unusual last (or vice versa).

    I also think the evolution of the nicknaming is fascinating — the responses of all these peer groups to multiple names, the way you get renamed so that you belong to the group specifically and are organized into its world. The way I still answer the work phone “Srrbunting!” because that’s how my parents would call-and-response me out of a cloud of other girls my age.

    And you GET renamed. One Jennifer in my class went by “J.W.” for years, but by the time she got sick of it and tried to make us go back to “Jenn,” we’d already been saying “J-Dub” for so long, it just didn’t take.

  • Geni says:

    Another Genevieve reporting in, also trained to respond to people who say, “Geneva?” or “Guinevere,” because people see the G and then stop thinking. I went by “Jenny” as a kid, and then rebelled because people assumed I was one of the multitude of Jennifers, and then a friend started spelling it Geni.

    I never met anyone with my name for ages, although people would tell me they had grandmothers with the name, but now I hear it used on the occasional four year old. Finally, I ended up at a workplace where there was a Genevieve in another department – but we still ended up with each other’s mail.

  • Mcgjgl says:

    I didn’t have any other Meg(h)ans in my class, though there were plenty in my school. The problem with my name is that my mother spelled it Megen. I’ve seen it in print this way before, but have never met anyone with this spelling. My husband is Turkish, so now people have a hard time pronouncing my first name. It’s like the last name throws them off and they try to foreign it up a bit. I get telemarketers asking for Mi-Jen all the time.
    In my son’s class there was a Jack M. and a Jack S. Seems pretty harmless, except I always thought my son was saying jackass. We had a hard time picking our children’s names because we wanted them to be pronouncable in both languages (even though their middle names are Turkish). We finally went with Julien, Gabriel, and Lily.
    Here’s my tip to anyone who is pregnant: If you’ve chosen a name you really like, don’t tell anyone. Just say you’re still thinking about it. Once the baby is born, people are much less apt to tell you how much it sucks.

  • juliette says:

    I have four friends named Katie right now, and three of them are friends with eachother. To me they’re Best Friend Katie, Hot Katie, Katie the Third, and Druggie Boyfriend Katie. Obviously I don’t address the latter as such to her face. :)

    Anyway, like the second Genevieve here, I had only met one other Julianna (a masseuse in Santa Barbara, and a great one, at that) prior to taking a second job. Within three months of hiring me, they’d hired another Julianna in the New York office. I do get a lot of her email, though it’s a very small company. Two Juliannas! Unheard of! :oD

  • Cathy says:

    My grade 7 class had 4 C(K)athys (and two of them were my best friends), 3 Jennifers, 2 Lisas, 2 Michaels, and 2 Stacys (who were stepsisters). My mother thought Catherine was such an original name when she named me. She was very, very wrong. Cathy these days doesn’t exist–Catherines get shortened to Kate instead.

    I’m a Brownie leader, and my unit of 9 consists of 2 Megans, 2 Laurens, 2 Leahs, and a set of twins. Only one girl doesn’t have a double of some sort.

  • spike says:

    I love nicknames and how people get them personally. In my family, you’re born, named and then introduced to grandpa who promptly names you something else that you will be called for life. For instance, my proper name Lori (which I never went to school with another one), grandpa names: Spike and Nicodemus. I still go by spike and think that I came out better than my other female cousins who are Horse, Mouse and Termite.

  • Andrea says:

    What, no one here from New England, where every other male of at least three generations is named Mike?

    My husband and two ex boyfriends are Mikes, as well. That says something about myself, but I’m not sure what.

  • Heather says:

    Hey where are all the Heather’s hiding? I know there are millions of us out there I went to school with most of them! Plus there was a kick ass movie made about us.

    When I name my boys I actually pulled up the list of 100 most popular names for the previous year and if the name I liked was in the top 50 I chose another name because I was not putting my little guys through the whole there’s 10 other kids with my name thing.

    Speaking of odd names, in school I knew of a guy named Thomas Thomas Thomas THE THIRD!!!! Can you imagine what his parents were thinking?!?

  • Maggie says:

    WORD to Maggie upthread about being named after a dog. I rarely meet humans names Maggie, but I know a lot of golden retrievers, including the one after whom I was named.

    My dd is Rosemarie (maybe “Rose” in the future, but not yet) and I haven’t yet heard of another one. It’s unique, a little old-fashioned, but people can spell and pronounce it pretty reliably.

  • Cindy says:

    My son’s school has approximately 70 students total, 1st-8th grades.

    At one point there were 3 Ians, 2 in the same grade.

    There was also apparently a revolving “Zach” position, as one Zach came to the 4th/5th classroom for one year, left, another came the following year and left, and now there’s a 3rd Zach in that classroom. I hope he stays though–he’s a sweet kid. That’s not to mention the Zach in 1st grade.

    But the teachers really take the cake–out of the 17 female teachers, there are now four Lisas.

  • Julie says:

    Funny that you should mention Vivian and Bertha, Sars, because both are prominently featured in this Chicago Tribune article about how women’s names tend to go through cycles:,1,2178745.story (might require login, not sure)

    It explains how lots of parents all at the same time think, “Hmm, Sophia’s a cute and unusual name, let’s go with that.” And now Sophia has 3 other girls in her preschool class with the same “unusual” name.

    The experts think Vivian is due for a comeback, but Bertha is one of two names that have dropped off the face of the planet. Bertha because it connnotes great size, and the other is Adolph (for obvious reasons).

  • Anne says:

    Well, as common as my name is (Anne), I’ve only ever gone to school with one, and worked with one. I’m 40, and I’ve had many, many jobs and lived in a lot of different places. Go Mom! heh However, I have had the all of the aforementioned multiples to deal with in school, work and friendships. Part of my crew right now? Jen, Jenn, and Julie! I managed to find a good name for my oldest, Sharra, different, but not impossible. Daddy got to name girl number two, however…Melissa Lynn….ought to be a law! We have an extremely common last name, so there is one benefit – not easily found on the intarweb! Melissa has a variety of names in her friends though. Julia, Gina, Vivian, Anna, Autumn, Courtney, Jordan, Victoria…all not so common. And no other Melissas right now, hee. My choice would have been Riley. Boy or girl.

  • Craig says:

    Rarely ever had another “Craig”, but if I had a dollar for every time I had to say, “no, not ‘Greg’…” I’d be able to quit my dull job and play golf all day.

    I’ve been trying to talk a friend who’s expecting a baby girl soon not to go with “Madison”, on the grounds that it’s the trendy name of the moment and she’ll go to school with vast numbers of other Madisons. I’ve suggested “Athena”, on the grounds that it sounds cool, unique yet historical, and also has the hidden extra BSG tie-in (heh!)

  • FloridaErin says:

    I was fortunate to be the only Erin in my class. However, when I got to high school, I was in the show choir with another Erin and her sister, Amanda, who was in my class. Whenever her sister said “Erin”, I would respond. Sister finally got sick of this and decided to use her first *and* middle names, Erin Elizabeth. Which . . . is also my middle name. I think we gave up at that point.

    I’m realizing now how popular Erin actually was at that time, though. I’ve met a remarkable number of them in my generation, sometimes with *bizzare* spellings. One of my best friends, my age, is Arin. I also know at least 3 Eryns. Growing up, I didn’t know there *was* another way to spell it!

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