As you’ve probably seen, the U.S. Social Security Administration released its annual list of most popular baby names last week.
I have never understood the popularity of the name Jacob, which currently enjoys the same sort of dominance on the baby-name list that the Atlanta Braves once exercised in the National League East. I never much cared for them either.
On the girls’ side, there seems to be a flight toward names I would associate with my parents’ or grandparents’ generations: Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail. No Johnny-come-latelies like Aiden or Jayden, which came from nowhere over the past 20 years or so and now hold spots on the boys’ Top Ten.
I hereby predict that a comeback is looming in the next 20 years or so for another old-fashioned name just waiting to be discovered and overused: “Vivian.”
It’s not too long. It’s crisp. It’s distinctive. It has that same sort of ’40s and ’50s movie-starlet ring that “Ava” has.
For a Continental touch, it can easily be converted to “Vivienne” — a name that practically leaves a breath of French perfume in its wake, even when the vice-principal says it.
“Vivian” also sounds sorta like “vivacious” — and what parents wouldn’t want their daughter being the life of the party? (In a hostess-with-the-mostest way, not an under-the-table way.)
And if young Vivian has a friend named Valerie, they can sing this to each other on the playground.
For some reason, the name “Vivian” turned into “Marion” in all the covers of this song from the ’60s and ’70s. Peter, Paul and Mary; Fotheringay; and Spooky Tooth all sang it, “Say hello to Valerie / Say hello to Marion.”
I assume it was copyrighted that way, or they were all working off some sort of early demo recording that maybe didn’t feature the final lyrics. (After all, Dylan’s version wasn’t commercially released until 1975.)
“Marion” might be poised for a comeback too, I suppose, but I don’t think it’s as cool as “Vivian.”