Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to name a baby Ezekiel Lawrence

Here's how we did it.

Ezekiel was going to be a Benedict. We were leaning Benedict for months. We were to name him after Benedict of Nursia, founder of the Benedictine monastic order. Benedict of Nursia was the Tom Hanks of fifth-century monks: dependable, stalwart, nice. But the extreme conservatism of the current pope, Benedict XVI, made us a little nervous. This man is no Tom Hanks. We wouldn't want anyone to think that we had named our son in his honor.

I have to apologize to my father for speaking ill of the pope. My late father, Lawrence Louis Lewandowski, was a devout Catholic and a huge fan of Pope John Paul II. Mostly, I think, because JP II was Polish and spoke eight languages -- the man did a lot to deflate the social currency of the dumb Polack joke. My dad appreciated that sort of thing on a personal level.

I mention my father because he is the source of our son's middle name. I don't know what the name Lawrence means to the rest of the world, but to our family it means beloved, plain and simple. There is no greater way to show our son that we love him than to give him my dad's name. It's also family tradition. My older brother has my dad's name for his middle name. I have my grandfather's.

As for Ezekiel. We kicked around a lot of names from the Old Testament. We got the biggest kick out of Ezekiel. The full name sounds polished and articulate. Maybe a little bookish, but it has a nice weight to it. The sort of gravity that can only come from an Old Testament classic. The short form, Zeke, is pure delight. Everybody likes Zeke, right? He's such a lovable goof!

We like the contrast between the two extremes: Ezekiel, the refined intellectual and Zeke, the sporty goofball. Of course, this is only our perception of what the name sounds like; whether he's either of those things, or neither, is completely up to him. We've never known anyone named Ezekiel. Throw the other potential nicknames into the mix -- Ziggy, Zee, Easy E -- and we were sold.

Ezekiel Lawrence. We liked everything about it. The sound gives a nice ride down the tongue. It tastes pretty good. The blocky, angular consonant sounds in Ezekiel contrast nicely with the longer, smoother, softer sounds in Lawrence. Everything was settled two weeks before the due date.

That would be the end of the story. If I hadn't tried to pull a switcheroo on my wife while she was recovering from surgery. Zeke was in the nursery. My wife was in the recovery room with the post-op shivers when I ran from the nursery to tell her we had to change the name. I was a little overwhelmed, emotionally.

He's too soft. That's what I told her. He's too soft in the face and Ezekiel has too many sharp corners for him. It's not soft enough. Ezekiel. We have to find something else. Because he needs a soft name. Because he is so soft.

The softest names I could think of at the time were Louis, my grandpa's name, and Lawrence, my dad's. I was convinced that only these two names were soft enough for our son. Larry or Louis.

Fortunately, my wife's head was clearer after surgery than mine was after watching it. She listened patiently while I had a minor meltdown about the name. But no decisions were made. Good thing. If I had been running the show he might very well have ended up Lawrence Lawrence Lewandowski. Can't get any softer than that.

A nurse brought our baby boy into the room after Karine had recovered enough to twinkle her toes. She held him in her arms for the first time. She looked at his round little head, and his soft little face, and introduced me to my son, Ezekiel Lawrence.

And that, was that.

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Anonymous said...

Wonderful story, darling baby, great name! Joani

Laurie said...

I am relieved you did NOT choose Benedict. I have a friend whom I call Ben. His name is Benedict. However his friends call him Been a D***. I can't spell it out b/c I am supposed to be a good missionary and all that. But you get the picture. Ezekiel is wayyyy cooler.

Milena said...

no matter if you pronounce Ezekiel spanish or the story and the name!he has style!
my best wishes to easy E and his proudly producers,

Kat said...

Fabulous story! It will be a great one to tell Ezekiel when he is older. I always loved hearing the story of how I was named. And you chose a rockin' name!

Sarah said...

Great naming story. I also know a Zeke who is an astro-physicist so your son is following in good intellectual name company.

Kristin and Peter said...

That is a beautiful story of how Ezekiel got his name. Thanks so much for sharing:-)

my name is Amanda said...

Just wanted to comment to say that this is a lovely story. It's so true what you say about the letters of a name matching the shape of a face! I bet it won't be long until the sharpness of EZEK...fits your little one perfectly, however, even w/o the "softness" of "Lawrence."