Saturday, November 15, 2008

SPANISH NAMING CONVENTIONS



As you may or may not have figured out from my previous post about great Kates, I'm slightly obsessed with names--their origins, their meanings, the forms they take in different languages. During my first trip to Buenos Aires, I actually spent an entire dinner writing down English names and their Spanish and Italian equivalents. And before you ask, I was dining alone, so I didn't bore anyone, not even myself, to tears.

I've always thought that people sort of take on the personality that's associated with their name. In the United States, there are so many names in circulation and those of the guys I dated so rarely overlapped that I wasn't able to pin point specific character traits that went with many of them (although if you're Ryan or Justin, you're most likely hot; Michael, possibly--probably--gay). But in Buenos Aires where all the guys seem to share about 20 names--try to spend one week here without tripping over a gazillion Martins, Fernandos and Alejandros--it's a far easier task.

Too give you an idea of how few names there are to go around here, the other night I was talking to a guy named Lucas (another favorite--I've never met a Lucas whom I didn't want to put in my pocket and take home) about Spanish names I love and loathe. At the top of my hate list, I told him, is Luis, which, ironically and predictably, turned out to be his middle name! He hates it, too, so no harm was done. We must not be alone in our hatred of all things Luis. The shortened form is Lucho, which is actually not shorter at all, so one can only assume that so many guys named Luis go by Lucho because they despise Luis as much as I do.

The next evening, I was at an asado (a Spanish barbecue) telling my friend Mariem this unlikely story about my faux pas with Lucas Luis, and--oops! I did it again!--listening in on the conversation was someone who turned out also to be named Luis. Luis Miguel! Surprisingly, I haven't encountered nearly as many Miguels and Juans as one might expect from the preponderance of Michaels and Johns in the United States, but I'll dwell on that on my own time some other time.

Right now, at the risk of losing friends and alienating people, I've decided to share some of my thoughts on Latino boy names and what you can expect from the guys who have them. And just for the record, if you come across any eligible Guillermos, Sebastians or Matiases, let me know.

  • ALEJANDRO He's crafty. Sleep with one eye open--or better yet, don't sleep, just walk!
  • ARIEL The perfect one-night stand. He's cute, congenial, and you won't hate yourself in the morning. He's also kind of forgettable, so you probably won't miss him much when he's gone.
  • CARLOS Let the good times roll!
  • DANIEL Insecurities abound. Do you want a man or a paper tiger who's too afraid of rejection to make the first move?
  • FEDERICO The ultimate playboy. Simply beautiful (almost without exception), but hold on to your heart, or it'll end in tears.
  • FERNANDO Sweet and dependable, a guy to bring home to Mom. He's excellent boyfriend material, even if the love he inspires is ultimately more platonic than passionate.
  • HERNAN Slim and shady (the opposite of Fernando, despite the close relation of the names). Let the buyer beware!
  • JUAN Earnest and persistent, and if you're just not that into him, he'll seem to thrive equally on the challenge and the rejection.
  • MARCELO A beautiful basket case.
  • MARTIN He gives great face to face, but when you're out of sight, you're out of mind. So don't clutch your mobile awaiting his SMS. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised.
  • MATIAS The holy grail! (Or is it just me?) Hard to get, impossible to hold.
  • TOMAS The closest you'll get to an American boy in Argentina. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he'll come with the Yankee qualities you're looking for.
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