Mesa Musings:

Just in time for Mother’s Day, the U.S. Social Security Administration announced its Top Baby Names for 2009 on Friday.

The lists stirred interest in our household.

At least two international events grab my fancy every year: the Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajärvi, Finland and the release of the Top Baby Names in the U.S.

How did the Carnett Clan fare in this year’s baby-naming derby?

We have six grandchildren. Four finished among the top five names on the two lists! Impressive, huh?

Our grandkids are the offspring of our three daughters, who obviously possess superb skills when it comes to bequeathing identity.

We have five granddaughters and a grandson. Three of the girls made it into the top five, finishing first, second and fifth, respectively. Permit me a moment to bellow the chorus from Freddie Mercury’s triumphal anthem: “We Are the Champions!”

Our grandson finished second on the boys’ list. He’s in good company with the likes of other recent runners-up like the Butler Bulldogs and Adam Lambert.

Our youngest granddaughter, 1-year-old Bella, reigns supreme on this year’s girls’ list. The numero uno girls’ name in the poll is Isabella, or Bella for short.

No. 2 on the girls’ roster is Emma. Our Emma is 9. We’re proud of her lofty second-place showing, though, truth be told, she had nothing whatsoever to do with her own naming. Emma, by the way, was the No. 1 name last year.

The No. 5 female finisher is our 4-year-old, Eva. Actually, on the Social Security Administration’s Top Baby Names List it’s spelled A-V-A … but that’s hardly reason for phoning the instant-replay judge in the booth.

Our Eva doesn’t pronounce her name like it’s spelled; she pronounces it Ava.

Nos. 3 and 4 on the girls’ list were Olivia and Sophia. None of our three daughters is “with child,” but should that situation develop we’ll give careful consideration to anointing a little Olivia or Sophia.

Now to the boys’ list. No. 1 is Jacob. No surprise there. Not a single Jacob is extant in our family but we’re willing to give thought to a future draft choice. Enormously popular, Jacob has taken the top spot 11 years in a row.

The No. 2 boys’ name this year is Ethan … and, yes, our 11-year-old grandson bears that name. Nos. 3, 4 and 5 are Michael, Alexander and William.

Wait. Did I just say William? No one has named a son William in the O.C. since, maybe, 1955. Both my grandfathers were named William.

My dad was William, and my brother is William. Can you find any kid enrolled in an Orange County high school with that name? You’ll uncover thousands of Dylans and Colins, and dozens of Blazes, but nary a Will … or Bill. Not to worry, in 14 years we’ll be completely restocked.

Our two remaining granddaughters who were shut out of this year’s competition are: 7-year-old Ellarie and 4-year-old Selah (pronounced “say-lah”).

Those, I readily admit, are uncommon names. Ellarie and Selah are cousins, so the same momma can’t be faulted for the monikers.

Ellarie is a variation of Ella, which has shown up on the top 10 list in recent years, so that brings some consolation. Still, who names a child Ellarie — besides my daughter? I have a hunch that El, as we call her, won’t be in the top 10 any time prior to attending graduate school.

And Selah. Do you personally know a Selah? I don’t. Except for my granddaughter. My youngest daughter who named the child is the creative one in our family, and, frankly, the name came as no surprise. Selah is a Biblical word (though not a name), and you’ll find it in the Psalms. It’s likely to remain there for at least another millennium.

With four out of six grandkids listed among the five most popular names in the land for 2009, this old codger can’t help but crow a bit.


JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Wednesdays.

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