Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column wondering if old Will Shakespeare was right when he observed, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”Here at the Corporate Suites, we’ve just received word that, for the seventh year in a row, Jacob is the number one name given to baby boys in the United States. For little girls, 2005 marked the 10th consecutive year of Emily domination.This fascinates us. We wanted to know more, so we turned on our computer and found the Social Security Administration’s website. We were overwhelmed with information.We discovered that, over the last 50 years or so, Jacob has made quite a comeback. From a low point in 1962 (number 370 on the list), the Old Testament name has made a steady climb. Emily’s nadir (number 273) was also in 1962. Hmm. 1962. That was the year Tom Cruise was born. Is there a pattern here? Regardless of what we think of the volatile “Risky Business” star, we have to admit he didn’t follow the herd this time when he picked a name for his new baby. “Suri” is not listed in the top U.S. 1,000 names for either gender in 2005. It is, however, a kind of alpaca.The herd mentality among American parents is, alas, obvious from the data collected on the government website.Take Mary, for example. Not so common now, but Emily’s enduring popularity can’t hold a candle to the historical dominance of Mary. From 1879, the first year of statistics available on the website, until 1961, Mary was numero uno (except for a weird glitch from 1947 through 1952 when Linda had her day in the sun). Jacob likewise has a ways to go before he’s anywhere near John or Michael. We wonder what it was like in elementary school back in 1915 when every other kid was named Mary or John.Oh wait, it must’ve been similar to 1965, when, if you were in fifth grade, chances were good you were named Michael or Mary or your next-door neighbor was. Or like 1990, when all fifth-grade girls were named Jennifer, except for the ones names Jessica or Amanda.We acknowledge the old-fashioned sound of top-ten names from a hundred years ago, like Mildred, Alice, Frank and Walter, but we also recognize how the years can turn any trendy name into uncoolness. Will today’s most popular names, such as Isabella, Madison, Tyler and Ethan, become the Ednas, Ethels, Harolds and Clarences of tomorrow? We want to go on record as appreciators of ALL names, no matter how common or uncommon. A survey of the first names of the newsroom staff here at the Corporate Suites shows only one listed on the top-ten list for 2005. All the rest of us deal with the relative unpopularity of our names as best we can. When it comes right down to it, we agree with Will Shakespeare.***It’s Sunday, folks, and we’re smiling, remembering our father’s unoriginal admonition: “Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner.”
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