I don’t recall arguing about baby names the last two times. Hannah and Max. In my mind, both kids popped out, we had the names ready to go, and that was that. Boom, done. The names fit, and they stuck. In retrospect it’s impossible to imagine them as anything else. You’d think we’d have this process down pat by now, but this time, we can’t imagine the kid at all, except as a little replica of either Hannah or Max, and as a result it’s been pretty contentious.

If you’ve got any suggestions, we’re all ears.

[Speaking of Hannah and Max, they had this exchange in the car the other morning while we were listening to “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, and I asked if anyone knew what the song was about. Hannah: “Yeah, it’s about love.” Max: “No, it's about a man who falls into a volcano and it burns burns burns.” Hannah: “It couldn't be. Because then the guy who sings it would be dead.” Max: “He is.”]

I keep arguing for safe American names that will enable the kids to blend in and avoid being the target of inevitable rhyming nicknames that last for years, like, say . . . oh, I don’t know . . . Deaf Boobie. Because that shit scars you and the next thing you know, it’s 35 years later, long after you thought you had gotten over it, you’re still blogging bitterly.

The crazy possibilities Sarah is throwing out—mostly Hebrew names like Zohar and Zev and Amir, which mean, respectively, “light,” “wolf,” and “sheaf of corn”—are diverging ever further from mine, like Ryan, Ethan, and Nick (which mean, respectively, Ryan, Ethan, and Nick.)

The more names she suggests, the less they begin to sound like names. There’s Doron, which I believe is a galaxy in Star Trek, Avital  (extra-strength pain reliever), Nachama (nachos), and Yehoshua (the sound my dad makes when he sneezes). She even suggested Gad, which was apparently the name of Jacob’s son, a name I’m pretty sure is pronounced “God.” I don’t even want to get into the problems that would create. How do you tell Gad to clean up his room? Or make Gad eat his carrots? You name the boy Gad and you’re pretty much telling him he is all-powerful. And every conversation about your boy comes across as sacrilegious. “Yeah, I’m trying to potty-train Gad, but he keeps pooping in the trash can.”

Nick, I pointed out, would never have those problems. Then again, Sarah reminded me that his rhyme possibilities would be far worse.