(written in 2010 by Jordan Inman)
“Alright then, since you don’t like coming up with names on your own, how about I propose one and then you can have veto? Does that sound good to you?”
A recovery-inspired sigh of hot breath and then, “Ok…I don’t think I’d like to walk out of here with the first no-name baby in the family…my sisters…your sisters! They wouldn’t let us live it down!”
“No, no. That’s nothing to worry about. We’ll have a name and I’ll be wheeling you out with the baby in your arms in no time. You don’t have to set a foot down until you’re ready to.”
The father takes an absent glance at the clock by the television set and fires his first attempt. “Mara.” He pronounces the first vowel open but she insists on speaking it back for herself with a long ‘a’…as in “mare”. “I just don’t want to risk people looking at her from strange angles. If she has even the slightest recourse outward in front of her palate, the name might brand her…horse-faced.”
Out of respect for her performance in the delivery room and consideration of her zonked stamina, he moves on quickly. “I understand. Lillian, then – in honor of Aunt Lilly.”
She mouths it a couple times silently and then the last time out loud, trailing off in the back of her throat with unpromise and bitter distaste. “Why does that name sound so familiar to me?” Her head sinks a little further into her pillow. “Oh shoot! That one will definitely NOT work! We’ll be naming her after a relative all right, Eyan…Cousin Black Sheep himself! Lil-ian…Little Eyan!”
“It isn’t even spelled the same!” the father bursts in surprised retort.
“I’ll be the one embroidering her name on satchels and shirts and calling her down for breakfast every morning. My own connotation is what counts.”
This time, the father takes a seat across from the foot of the bed and leans forward, pleading with his brow. “What if I replace the objectionable half of the name then? How’s Lillith sound?”
“Oh, now that’s a no-brainer. I won’t instill my daughter with any…perverse sexuality.”
“Perverse sexuality! Where in the world did that come from?!”
“Oh…I guess it’s not as terrible as that. It’s just…I can’t help but think of the Lillith Fair. Two of my closest friends took advantage of the exclusively female attendance to see all of those musicians and came back a lip-locking…Lillith pair.”
“Honey, you do realize practically every name is going to carry some baggage with it! You can’t have it perfect! You think all those Louis’s and Henry’s and George’s who ruled countries didn’t have to redeem their namesakes’ downfalls?”
“Dear, you know there always has to be a first, like say Queen Elizabeth I…but I won’t even consider coming up with a pretentious new name pulled out of the air…and don’t suggest Elizabeth either, I remember…”
“Alright! Ok! Don’t bother explaining it to me!” He meets the clock face-to-face again and wonders if a blood vessel had busted in her brain during expulsion. “We aren’t going anywhere without a name,” he reminds himself mentally, “I’ve got to keep my patience.” Something clicked when he emphasized that last word…
“Patience,” he repeats out loud without granting context to his wife. “It’s so familiar and yet so unheard of as a name it just might be crazy enough to stick,” he thinks to himself while his mood ascends, “And such a positive association…”
But before he can even suggest the virtue to his wife, “That word…it has such a beautiful touch. Patience. Yyyes…it’s gentle but it has…” She struggles for a second and then her husband finishes, “Persistency. Faithfullness. Patience is a very pure name, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yes, that’s a wonderful choice! I think we’ve got it!” The back of her head starts feeling warm instead of hot.
“Thank God,” the father thinks without showing too much relief, “Now I’ve only to help redirect her attention before she destroys that one with some outrageous…”
A ward nurse rolls in the transparent plastic box stuffed to the top with their newborn daughter cushioned in blankets and a soft beanie. “Here she is Mom and Dad, as quiet as snow angel.” The mother finds the strength to sit up a little and the father nearly tiptoes over to the baby. “I just want you to know how very patient you both were in delivery. Most couples would have gone for the epidural in your case.” The two parents can only exchange speechless smiles with one another in acknowledgement of the irony in the nurse’s diction.
“Oh, but just one more thing before letting you three go – I’d be careful not to take the baby out through an east exit. A group of diphtheria patients were just transferred in down the hall – vomiting, swollen necks, skin lesions. Believe me, you’re going to want to stay clear of those patients.”