File this one under "Weird, Lame Girl Traits" / by vanessa

At the risk of betraying an embarrassing yet longstanding tradition in female culture, and exposing myself as an intellectually-begrudged yet card-carrying member, I'll confess:

I have girl and boy names picked out.

No, I'm not expecting. I'm not even THINKING of expecting for several years, nor have I any inclination nor remote possibilities of expecting anytime soon. (My womb would be of better service leasing ad space in its copious spare time.) For all intents and purposes, I have no practical use for these phantom children's names.

And yet, I, like most chicks I know, have thought of these names well before I even wanted children, much like the way you think of your wedding before you've ever kissed your first boy. The end product matters less than the originality that the idea represents. It's in these placeholders that we begin the process of reinventing ourselves, of producing what we believe we aren't or weren't. We guard our names and visions like maps to secret treasures.

You see, I had a great girl name. I had heard it only twice before - first in a song, then in a movie. Not weird enough to expose me for trying too hard, yet not common enough that it'd betray me as an un-hip sheep to last year's trend. And then on Thursday I went to a party. One of those new kinds of parties where parents guzzle wine while their kids run amok. (It's like two parties in one!) Among the mix, there she was: a two year old with strawberry blonde hair, a devilish smile, and MY GIRLNAME! It only takes one acquaintance to ruin the connection. The name is spoiled, it's no longer mine. Anyone who knew us both would think that I took the name -- a crime in my own twisted book. And now here I am, no child in sight, (like THAT matters), left to start at square one all over again and only years to come up with something equally as clever.

At least I don't know any boys named Mies.