I keep thinking about names. I suppose I should make it easier on myself and wait until we know the baby’s sex. But I actually enjoy thinking about names, and I think about names even when I’m not pregnant and there’s no one to name. I’ve thought about names since I was a little girl. I think that is probably the writer in me.

When I was around ten years old, I remember watching the Can’t Buy Me Love over and over again. And so when we played pretend, my name was always Cindy – the super-trendy, super-popular girl in the movie. Another favorite was inspired by my teenage neighbor’s girlfriend – Lisa.

Now that I’m older, I’ve come to love the name my mom gave me. Even with the current trend of giving “old lady” names like Hattie, Hazel, and Frances new life, Helen is still rare, and I’m not sure why because I think it’s a pretty name, and I always loved that I rarely come across other Helens.

And now when I think about naming my kids, I’m careful to distinguish between those enticing names that I enjoy at the moment – the way I enjoy a clothing trend…if I did enjoy clothing trends…because it turns out I’m not the trendiest in that regard either – and the ones I simply love, regardless of what’s in fashion.

What makes me love a name? I’m glad I asked. I like names that have meaning. Maybe someone very special to me, or to our family, fictional or real, bears the name.

I like “real” names, with long literary histories. I find them more interesting and substantial that way.

I like whole names that can be shortened to nicknames if chosen, but I like the birth certificate to contain the original, long form of the name. It just feels proper. I think it’s the OCD in me that can’t handle a part of a name on a birth certificate. Others don’t share hang up.

For my hypothetical son, I’d like his name to feel just alpha enough, so that if he isn’t super macho, he doesn’t feel awkward in his name, but if he is, he has a name with command.

For a girl, I like feminine names.

In my opinion, the last name is crucial to consider when naming children. In our case, we have Cobb to work with. Like my maiden name, it is short and blunt – but with even harder consonants. So some of the lovely, ultra-delicate girl names I’d otherwise consider are out – because the first name must be feminine but also sturdy enough to stand up to Cobb. Which narrows our selection considerably.