The naming game

So there is the question of the name. Balduino the Kumquat is not the most traditional of named, I admit. But let me explain.

First, Balduino. True it sounds a bit like a minor character in a Shakespeare play (as one of you pointed out in a recent email). True it is impossible to pronounce. And Google autocorrect wants to change it to Bald Into (as another of you pointed out). True it is a joke that we can’t seem to shake. But it’s also representative of the sheer madness in trying, as Marta and I are, to find a name that sounds beautiful and has beautiful connotations in both English and Spanish.

This game has been going on since way before we found out Marta was pregnant. We’d be in the car heading to Chicago, let’s say, and she’s ask coyly, “So what about ‘Victor?'” To which I would respond, “Echhhk!”

Then a few minutes later, I’d give it a try: “And Eliza?”


“Sergio?” “No way.”

“Willie?” “Are you serious?”

“Javier?” “Nope.”

“Camille?” “Sounds like a disease.”


Until one day I came up with the bright idea of scouring literary references for names. Finn, after all, is named for Huck Finn. Our child could be similarly allusive. Faulkner, I decided, would be a bit too bold. Stein or Flannery sounded like beer mugs and UN conference topics. Stumped, I suddenly remembered one of my favorite essayists: James Baldwin.

What a beautiful name! Baldwin. Baldwin!

I rushed home to tell Marta, thrilled to have found what I considered the perfect name for our perfect future child. I was sure she would agree.

Instead she doubled over in laughter. Then she called her family so they could laugh with her.

“Do you know how we say Baldwin in Spanish,” she asked, once she’d finally recovered. “Balduino. Ha! Balduino.”

Balduino, in case you’ve been wondering, is pronounced a bit like Bald-Weee-No, a name that brings to mind a bald man on a roller coaster that is alternately fun and terrifying. Not the sound I want for a future child.

And yet the joke has stuck.

In the time since then we have been able to agree on a very short list of acceptable names in the two languages, and yet none of them seems perfect to us. So Balduino became a place holder of sorts, a funny and increasingly cute one.

As for Kumquat. I’ll explain that in my next post. Let’s just say it has to do with metaphors and the Internet.

3 thoughts on “The naming game

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