Ed Space, August 11: What's my problem? You name it ...

As the last of seven children, my parents were clearly running short of ideas when it came to finding a name for No. 7.

As the family story goes, my older siblings sent a list of possible names to hospital for my mother to consider after what was a harrowing and very premature birth.

On that list was a lot of the usual names you’d normally associate with kids born in the mid-1970s.

Regular names like Craig or Matt.

Yet apparently the matron of the maternity award, a family friend, had other ideas and decided I should be named “Julian”. Not even “Julien” with an “e”, Julian with  an “a”.

Dude? Seriously.

Dude? Seriously.

Whether she realised it or not, but that matron had just sentenced me to a school lifetime of torment and torture. And a lifetime of clarifying “no, it’s with an A not an E”. 

If I had a dollar for every time a kid at primary school said “That’s a girl’s name, Julie-Anne”, I could of bought the place, made myself principal and transitioned it into a school solely for kids with names that were just a bit weird.

In this day and age, parents go out of their way to make names a bit different. It’s a right of passage and a modern thing to do.

You even have to “add some bling” to normal names. Chances were if you were born a Jackie 50 years ago, you’d be named “JacQuiey”  now. If you were a boy named Jackson, then you’d be Jaxxszon now. With a silent Y.

Yet back in the 1970s, “Julian” was just that little bit too different from the 10 blokes named Matthew in my class.

Now as much as this column would seem to suggest, I’ve got over it and learned to love it. Without any therapy. And now, Julian is even quite popular as a name.

The name “Julian” is ranked No. 28 on the popularity list for boys, according to babycenter.com. Yet it still haunts me at times. 

On Sunday morning as I ordered takeaway coffee from a cafe in Bondi, a young man asked for the name for the order and I loudly and proudly said “Julian”.

I then watched in stunned silence as he carefully wrote on the lid, while looking at me, “Julie”.

Julie? Dude, seriously.  

Julian (with an A) O’Brien is the editor of the Illawarra Mercury 


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