Saturday, April 23, 2011

Would you date a guy because he has a cool name? (Or reject him because he doesn't?)

I know. I know. It sounds so shallow, like dating for looks, or money or, ahem, endowment. But don't even try to tell me that you don't have a name thing. Everybody does -- though for some, it's more extreme than for others. On a name-nut scale of 1 to 10, I'd say I'm about an 8.

How does this name fetish work? An example: During my first trip to Melbourne last year, I was at the pub Windsor Castle with friends one Sunday afternoon when I overheard someone talking about her new boyfriend Nathan.

Nathan!

My ears weren't the only things that perked up! My friend Annie and I spent the next half hour discussing the importance of being Nathan. Now there's a name you don't hear every day. There was Dr. Horton, the recently departed Nathan on Days of Our Lives, and there's Castle star Nathan Fillion, but I don't believe I've ever met a Nathan in real life. I pretended that the really cute guy I'd met the night before was named Nathan because I couldn't remember his name. Who knows? Maybe he was a Nathan, but he looked more like a Josh.

Once, upon a mattress, Josh would have worked wonders for my libido. In the U.S., Josh and Ryan aside, my greatest ambition was to go out with a guy named Brendan (it happened, a few days after September 11). In Argentina, I turned my name focus to Lucas. Instead, I got Martin, Fernando and Marcelo -- tons of them -- but not one single Lucas. It got to the point where I would attach personality traits to certain names (Matias = Hot, Federico = Player, Hernan = Shady, and so on) and avoid others like the plague. During my first weeks back in Australia, I was relieved that I'd never again have to cross paths with Alejandro, unless it was via the Lady Gaga song. It was all about finding Nathan.

Not that any name slut wouldn't have his or her pick of good ones in Australia. It seems every guy I meet calls himself something cool -- or totally different. Blake, Clint, Grant, Mick. Hayden (which I've been told is pretty common Down Under). Beau. Zoren. Kimberley. Kimberley! Ashley. Ashley! My friend Marcus used to date a guy named Dade -- which was also the name of a former NYC colleague of mine -- and lately he's been hanging out with a bloke named Harris. (I've always had a weakness for surnames as first names!)

A friend of mine has a two-year-old nephew named Mason. I always thought of that as a name for a grown up, but I suppose everybody has to start somewhere. Though I've met a Jason and a couple of Scotts (I don't know why, but I've always considered both to be uniquely American), I don't think I've met a single Mike, John or Tim, not to mention Tom, Dick or Harry. I did kiss another Jeremy recently just to see what it would be like. It wasn't like kissing myself -- though I wouldn't even know what that's like.

Last week, I finally found my Nathan -- well, actually two of them. On my way to a date with Nathan No. 1, a slightly inebriated guy stumbled up to me and struck up a conversation. His name: Nathan. So after nearly 42 Nathan-free years, I got two in one night, though I only went out with one of them. I'm not sure what it is about Nathan. Maybe it's memories of history class and Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War hero whose last words were "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Maybe I'm the one who's losing it. The date, by the way, lived up to his name.

I couldn't imagine either of the Nathans I met that night ever doing anything quite so noble as dying for his country (though Nathan No. 1 said his life-long dream is to do good deeds in East Africa), but with a name like that, they don't really have to.

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