The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

JENNIFER--WHAT'S IN A NAME
I got a call on my voicemail earlier this evening from a girl who identified herself as "Jennifer". It took me a few seconds to realize who it actually was, and even though I did, that short period of uncertainty reminded me of how many girls named Jennifer I know or have known.

Though I'm too tired to rack my brain, offhand I can think of nine Jennifers with whom I keep in regular or semi-regular contact. There are probably as many more with whom I've lost touch. And who knows how many I've flat-out forgotten. What gives?

The only common thread is that pretty much all of them are in my age group (25-35 or so). Which indicates that Jennifer was a super-popular name for little baby girls 30 years ago. I wonder if there's a single-source reason for that, or if it's just coincidence.

In any case, it can get confusing. I first sort of noticed the preponderacne of Jens in middle school, when I knew a handful of girls with the name. This accelerated slightly in high school, and got flat-out ridiculous in college: My senior year, I lived a couple of doors down from a dorm suite where four of the eight girls living there were named Jennifer (we distinguished them by yelling for them using their last names: "Barnes! You up there?")

Anyway, despite its widespread application, I actually really like the name Jennifer. And there's one place where I don't encounter it on a daily basis: At work, where none of the women have that name. However, in a weird twist, all three women at the office in my immediate vicinity do have the same first initial, and it's "J": Jamie, Janice and Janell. Freaky.