It is no secret that our son is named Alexander at least in part because of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The real reason is because we had agreed that he should have a name that could translate into the three languages that we speak -- English, Spanish and Polish -- which meant that he would not get my name, which doesn't translate into any other language at all. Alexander fit very nicely: Aleksander, Alejandro. Plus, it lent itself to the possibilities of a nickname with a "Z" sound, which would make me very happy. (My first choice, Zachary, had long been rejected by both my wife and my mother.)
We couldn't bring ourselves to call him "Xander," however, just because it would be a little too close to the series. Not that we don't love the character Xander Harris -- I, for one, perhaps identified a little too closely to his goofy, sad-sack ways and how much those indeed emulated my own high school experience. (Xander was cooler, however, than I was. Jenny can confirm that.) Angela found that a possible nickname was "Xan," which we thought was way cool, and there we go: our child's nickname.
A few months ago, I found out that an old college friend, Angela Lee, was moving to DC and indeed was also pregnant. She informed us that she was having a boy and that they too had decided on the name Alexander. I thought this was great. A couple weeks ago, right after she got to town, she came to see me on campus and she saw my Xander Harris action figure (in camouflage from the Halloween episode, purchased while I was at a conference from the New Orleans Tower Records entirely because it was 90% off). She said, "That's what Xander Harris is like?" I said, "Oh yeah," and then went off describing the character's life as a loveable loser. "Oh great," she said, "maybe I don't want him to be named that after all."
I laughed it off and didn't think about it. This last weekend, we were both headed to Annapolis to celebrate our friend Ric getting tenure at the USNA. (We were there to assure various people that, yes, Ric used to have very long hair.) I also finally met Angela's husband, whose name is Peter Harris.
It took me until the drive home when Angela finally spelled out for me the problem with now naming him Alexander: the fact that his last name would be, as it turns out, Harris. In other words, their son would have the exact name as the BTVS character.
Somehow I missed that.
Of course, she's 36 weeks pregnant and so far the only other name they have for their child is "Moo-Shiu Godzilla" so maybe there will be a real Alexander Harris after all. (Although wouldn't you want to be a kid named "Godzilla"? Your friend at the playground could point at you while you're arriving, then run away screaming while you stomp on sand sculptures emulating Tokyo. Plus, his initials would then be MSG.)