The last thing I need is more distraction, so imagine my surprise when the latest in a long line of homework deterrents came from a teacher.
Teacher Patricia Fels showed me Baby Name Wizard, a site that tracks the popularity of baby names all the way back to the late 1800’s.
What makes it different from other name-related time vortices is that it has a graph of the frequency of baby names per million for each decade. You can even move your mouse along the years to see the specific rankings.
You can also see what qualities people attribute to your name. Apparently, the site’s user base doesn’t find the name “Grant” to be sexy. I respectfully disagree.
The first thing I did was what anyone would do: look up my own name.
According to the site, Grant had moderate popularity throughout the last century with a huge spike in popularity within the last couple decades.
Well, so much for originality.
Fels was still there at that point, so I looked up Patricia as well.
I don’t know what it was in the ‘40s and ‘50s that made everybody want to name their little girl Patricia, but at least I understand why there are five of them on the high-school faculty.
Unfortunately, everybody started to jump ship towards the end of the century, so now it’s quickly spiraling towards the label of “old lady name.”
Fun fact: my father was adamant about using only family names for his future son/daughter.
While the choices for boys were good, salt-of-the-earth names, the pickings for girls were… slim, to say the least. If, in some Bizarro universe, I were to be born a girl, the leading contender for my name would be Dorcas.
Yes, that’s a real name. It’s biblical, okay?
On one hand, I would have to live with being called Dork or Dorky throughout grade school without the hope of any teacher intervention. On the other hand, I would be famous.
People the world over would look up the name Dorcas on Baby Name Wizard and see a tiny dot on the bottom right of the chart, 50 years after people realized that name was a bad idea.
That dot would be me: Dorcas Miner.
Previously published in the print edition on Sept. 16, 2014.