Stay-at-Home Nerd: Baby Names and Me
a blogumn by Joshua Pullin
Some day around the age of four or five my son will ask why we named him what we did. This is what I will tell him.
Your mom and I knew you were a boy before you were born. We could’ve given you a family name. Only with one grandfather and zero brothers or uncles between us, there weren’t a lot of family names to pick from. So, we made a few rules. Popular names, even if we liked them, like Jack, Andrew or Ben, were out. Biblical names were out. Names that reminded us of anyone we didn’t like were out. Trendy celebrity names were out. We thought about naming you Joshua, but I didn’t want to turn my head every time your mom called out Josh. Besides, we wanted you to have your very own name.
Ruling out names was taking forever so we decided what kinds of names were acceptable. Your mom craved one with literary significance. I sought a name that was unmistakably a boy, but fit for a man – the name of someone who could eat dirt and one day run for congress. It wasn’t long before we settled on the letter ‘G’. Maybe it was because you have a grandma Gayle and a grandpa Gordon. I really don’t know. Graham was the early front-runner and met both our criteria. Graham Greene was an author, playwright, and critic, and Graham by itself sounded like a little boy who might just grow up and do something. But, it didn’t stick. We chose Grady. John Grady Cole is the heroic character in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses as well as the professor in Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon. That satisfied any literary requirement. Plus, it sounded like a cowboy name. Honestly though, I think we just liked the grrrrrrr.
But that’s just half the story. The real story is how you got your last name, Pullin. Your mom is Kelly Pullin and when I married her my name was Joshua Sitarz. Historically, the mom takes her husband’s last name. Sometimes it’s hyphenated. For instance your mom could’ve been Kelly Sitarz or Kelly Pullin-Sitarz. She tried on Sitarz for a while, but it didn’t stick and she never made it legal. If she had, you would be Grady Sitarz or Grady Pullin. We scratched the hyphen idea because it felt like not making a choice. And, where would it end? If we’re hyphenated and you get married and your spouse is hyphenated, you’d have more hyphens than letters in your last name.
Unable to decide, I kept my last name and your mom kept hers. Although, as soon as your mom got pregnant with you, we decided that all of us should share the same last name. Now, we had to choose between Sitarz and Pullin. I wasn’t close to my father and that’s where the Sitarz name came from. On the other hand, your mom is very close to her family and when you were born there were five other Pullins. That may not sound like much, but by keeping Pullin, you were instantly a part of a big, happy family that shared your same last name.
That’s how you were named Grady Pullin, and that’s how I became Josh Pullin. Now, go to sleep!