Alec, Ernest and other tough guys

Until about an hour ago, I thought the meanest thing my husband and I had ever done to our son Alec was not buying him a dog.

But according to an article in Social Science Quarterly – What? You don’t read that? – we have also given him a terrible burden to bear.

A friend sent me a link to a segment from the Today Show (always on the lookout for new ways to depress us in the morning), which cites the article, saying that giving your newborn boy an “oddball, girly or strange first name may just land them in jail.”

First on the list of top 10 “Bad Boy” baby names?

Alec, of course.

My husband points out that the list is in alphabetical order, like that helps. The other names are Ernest, Garland, Ivan, Kareem, Luke, Malcolm, Preston, Tyrell and Walter.

Now I don’t know what jails the good people from Social Science Quarterly are frequenting, but I have yet to see a prison movie where any of the convicts are named Preston, Walter or Garland. That said, put me on a playground with an Ernest when I was a kid and yes, I would probably have tripped him for no good reason.

And Kareem? Are there really a lot of those running around, other than Abdul-Jabbar?

While the article says  these “unpopular” names are unlikely to be the direct cause of crime – Gee, ya think? — Shippensburg University Professor David Kalist and his associate Daniel Lee (sure, David and Daniel) write that the social pressures of being given a god-awful name “increase the tendency toward juvenile delinquency.”

The research was based on a study of approximately 15,000 names given to baby boys between 1987 and 1991. Apparently during the time span, there were kids on playgrounds all over America sending little Alec’s down the road to no-good by calling them “Smart Alec.”

Thankfully, our Alec was born in 1998, so he might be OK (unless, of course, anyone gets wind of the fact that I like to call him “Alley Cat” sometimes, and then he’s doomed).

When I was little, girly boy names like Lesley or Adrian or Ira were not good. But oddball? Are they kidding? Have they read People Magazine?

Apparently, there are no bullies in Hollywood or all the celebrity kids there have their own bodyguards. Is anyone tracking Gulliver (Gary Oldman’s son), Hopper (son of Sean Penn and Robin Wright), Kyd (David Duchovny’s and Tea Leoni’s), Ocean (Forest Whitaker’s) or the ever-popular Pilot Inspektor (actor Jason Lee) to see if they turn to a life of crime?

I’m more than a little offended. Names that will go to jail? How about much lower than that? How about Osama, Attila, Idi, Bernie?

There are no rules now. Emerson, Grayson, Carson. Mackenzie, MacKinley. Caden, Teagan, Boden. Carson and Cannon.  Asher and Finley. Boys, girls or puppies, it’s impossible to tell.

My son Alec just walked in and wanted to see what I was writing about, so he read the article and was insulted. He cited two Alec’s he knows personally, including himself, and said both were good kids.

But he claims he is not angry at us for saddling him with such a liability and really, why would he be? We could’ve named him Garland.

2 Responses to “Alec, Ernest and other tough guys”

  1. Kevin

    Well, consider this a lesson learned. If ever a grandson is on the way, counsel your children to pick the right name. I’d go with Night Train, Duke or Joey No Nose. That should grease the path to success.

  2. Kelly

    Alec…a tough guy?? He is the sweetest boy I know…I wouldn’t worry about the name. He will always be adorable and sweet no matter what his name is!! Please tell him hi for me!


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