My sister-in-law, the one who was recently re-married in the Catholic church, is pregnant. Does it count as a shotgun wedding if you’re already married with children? Anyway, after her re-wedding ceremony, at the party where Ward pondered deep questions of names and knowing, people were talking about names for the upcoming child. Several names were suggested, and most discarded. But all of the suggestions were first names. They hadn’t moved on to middle names yet.

Patrick, the soon-to-be older brother, is pretty sure the child is going to be a boy. His logic is that he already has two sisters, so a boy is required to even out the gender imbalance. This boy has a future in statistics. He doesn’t quite understand middle names though. His middle name is “Julius,” and when he’s in trouble, he’s “Patrick Julius,” so he’s familiar with his own middle name.

But as the first names were suggested at the party, Patrick tried them out by testing what he assumed would be the full name of this boy. “John” became “John Julius Namoff.” “Robert” became “Robert Julius Namoff.” It soon became clear that Patrick thought all boys in his family will have the same middle name.

When he was younger, Patrick’s cousin Alex apparently had a different confusion about middle names. He once thought he had two middle names, “Ander” and “Michael.” Because when he was in trouble, his mother would say what he heard as “Alex Ander Michael,” actually “Alexander Michael.” Silly kids.

But middle names are clearly counter-intuitive. Why do we have them? Wikipedia offers a few reasons, but none of them seem worth the trouble. I think if I have a child to name, I’ll lobby hard for no middle name. If they grow up and find they don’t have enough names, they can always add more later. But I don’t really need to establish a line of royal ancestry or anything, so I don’t see any reason to give a child a third name before they have a personality to attach it to.

My friend JJ recently gave me an additional name. A while back, I made the mistake of talking about my self-diagnosis of Asperger’s. Shortly after that, JJ introduced me to another friend of his, also named Scott. To differentiate between us, he has since referred to me and introduced me as his “autistic friend Scott.” So to JJ’s friends, my middle name is effectively “autistic.” Lucky for me, anyone who knows JJ just passes right over this as we meet.

I have a similar additional name for JJ, but mine is non-verbal. Whenever I talk about JJ with people who have met him, I make sure to clarify exactly who I’m discussing by moving my hands around where my hair would be if it were as large as JJ’s. So his middle name is effectively a hand motion about four inches from the head.

My "autistic" name has a small problem: I’m not actually autistic. And JJ’s hand-wavey name has a problem whenever he gets a haircut. But I think these ad hoc additions to our family and given names are far superior to middle names. I think that’s enough about names for now. On to faces?