Day 73: What’s in a name? Be frank.

Collect contemporary stories of bravery in everyday life situations.

We finally agreed on a name for the baby today. I am a brave father.

For our oldest son we chose a new which to our surprise turned out to be one of the most trendy names that year in Norway. For our second son, we wanted to do be more unique — and decided upon a name which turned out to be almost as trendy. Besides, both names are not just easy to pronounce all over Europe (a prerequisite), but also quite common in most European countries.

For our third child, I wanted to try harder. This time, I really wanted to find a unique name, or at least an uncommon one: I know what it’s like when you have to share your name with other kids. I never liked it.

I suggested Frank. Frank! You can’t be serious, right? No-one calls their babies Frank any more!

True, they don’t anymore. Not in Norway:

But wouldn’t that be great? To have a name everyone knows and can spell, and yet be unique, at least among your age group? I’m sure he would learn to love that name, and as an adult, he would thank us for being brave enough to choose a less than modern name.

But no. They all voted against it. My wife even refused to believe I was serious.

Very well, if I can’t choose an old name like Frank, I will find a new name. A truly unique name, which didn’t even exist before I made it.

What about Leandrian? Knørg? Gormar? Pedrianus? Tororm? Baltester? Basketballister?

Now you’re just being stupid. Even Frank is better than made up names.

We went back and forth untill today. We decided upon one name one evening, and the morning after, it didn’t seem right at all. We went through hundreds of baby names (at least I did, I like going through lists to find gold), but every one of them sounded wrong in one way or the other. We sang, shouted, whispered the names of the two oldest, and then tried every name we could think of, to hear how they sounded together.

One name sounded OK, but had the same initials as the oldest son’s name. Lots of names had the wrong meaning (anything with God was out of the question). Many names worked well in Norway but bad in other countries, or vice versa.

But we need a name! And we need a name which suits him, otherwise he will go through life bitter and angry!

Yesterday, we decided upon a name. Again. But early today, before we could change our minds, I took the bicycle and went to a church office (!), where I had to fill in a form to register the baby and confirm that I was the father and give his name etc.

I never liked bureaucracy, and I didn’t for the life of me understand why I had to come to this office in person. But when I got there, I realised that my hands were free. It was up to me to write the name, hence I could write whatever I wanted, hence I could write anything. In Prague, I had to choose a name in the delivery room. In Oslo, we knew all along what the name would be. But in Copenhagen?

My hand held the pen a centimeter above the paper. Whatever I write now, will be his name, probably forever. Names can be changed, but I have heard a couple of stories about fathers adding an extra name without their wife’s knowledge, and those names were not changed later. If I ignore all warnings and name the baby Frank, or even better Frank-Pedrianus, chances are he will be know by that name for the rest of his life. It will define him, it will be him, and I alone will have chosen it.

The power…

He might hate me, but he will be forced to admit that I was brave. And that’s something.

The pen hovered one centimeter above the paper, names went back and forth like ping-pong balls in my head, one second, two seconds — and then I decided. I wrote a name i had never written before, laid down the pen and nodded. This is what he should be called. I want it that way.


When I came back one hour later, the baby was sleeping in his pram. So, I said to him, asleep again, heh, Frank?

Frank? my wife called from the kitchen. We agreed that he shouldn’t be called Frank! You didn’t!

What’s in a name? He’s our son anyway, isn’t he? And don’t worry, he’ll grow into it, one always gets used to names. It’s just habit. Even if he doesn’t look like a Frank now, he’ll do it after a few months or years. If everyone calls him Frank, he will become Frank. It’s that simple.

You didn’t.

No, I didn’t. I chose the name we decided upon.

Brave, me?

Well, there are less than 200 men in Norway with that name, and it’s not common at all elsewhere either. None in our families had heard the name before. I would call us just as brave as we should be: the name is not strange, and not easy to make fun of, and yet it’s different enough to make people notice it. That’s brave enough. I am a brave man.

My wife went upstairs and I picked up the baby, he had woken up and was hungry again.

Don’t tell your mother, I whispered to him, but you’ll always be Frank to me.

Brave is as brave does.

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