You know how parents do that adorable married people thing where they argue over the details of some event that took place decades ago? You know, when they both have a different recollection of something they have been debating for so long neither of them are actually upset over it anymore and they don't really even want to settle the argument because it's a fond reminiscence of their lives together?
We have those in my family too, except instead of being cute and heartwarming, you find out your mother named you after a dead baby she read about in People Magazine in 1988.
Allow me to elaborate.
My parents love to argue over how they came up with the names for my brother and I. My brother, for example, was nearly "Doyle" after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer. Thankfully they chose a different name, as to be named Doyle is to be condemned to a life of having to wear high pants and suspenders with no shirt while you challenge people to bouts of fisticuffs and moustache growing fights. Actually, that sounds kind of awesome...
As for me, both of my parents resolutely take credit for having chosen the name Matthew for me. My father, being a great lover of baseball says that his criteria for the name of his firstborn son was that he be named after one of the great ballplayers of the olden days. Thankfully he said he decided naming me something like Honus, Cy, or Tris would have been ridiculous in this century, so he decided on Matthew after famous New York Giant's Pitcher Christy Mathewson.
That story seems more or less believable, and at least he went with Matthew and not Christy. It would have been an absolute delight growing up if in addition to being a weird, unpopular nerd I also had a girl name.
All in all I'm fine with that as an origin story for my name. Legendary baseball player that your father idolizes is a pretty normal thing to have your namesake based on, I'd say. On a side note, not that this has anything to do with anything, but as it turns out Christy Mathewson was apparently a smokin' hot man-god:
You're welcome ladies, men who are into men, and men who are into women but can appreciate the jawline of goddamn Captain America.
Anyway, in opposition to my father's claim of "famous baseball player" as the source of my name, my mother's version has always been that she came up with the name and picked it because it meant "Gift from God". For the entirety of my life, that has been the only version of that story ever given during the countless debates between my parents over who picked out the names of their two children. No more or less elaboration than that. Just, "I picked it because it meant gift from God". Sort of boring, but fine.
That is until this past weekend when, during a family cookout the debate came up again and my mother dropped this little gem that she has somehow never thought to mention before:
Apparently the full story of where she came up with the name Matthew is that she read an article in People Magazine about some town that came across the dead, frozen body of an unknown baby, collectively took him in as one of their own, buried him, and named him Matthew because it meant "gift from God."
My mother picked my name after reading a story about some people that found a dead baby in the woods.
Skipping over the fact that this town apparently thought "gift from God" was the appropriate way to feel about about a frozen woods-baby, apparently my Mother read this article and the takeaway was "Hmm, the name they picked out for that tiny frost-hardened corpse has a nice ring to it."
Here's the real kicker. Thanks to modern technology and my expert ability to google "People Magazine, town names dead baby Matthew" I actually found the freaking article. My mother has searchable, verifiable evidence of her insane "picked out your name from People Magazine's story about a dead baby" being true. If you want to read something morbid feel free to click here to see it.
The thing is, the point of the article isn't even a tragic yet heartwarming tale of a community coming together to lay a poor lost child to rest. That part is like, a one paragraph intro at the beginning followed by a lengthy and legitimately upsetting article about how they identified the child two years after the fact and think he was killed by his father who somehow keeps having people close to him die suspiciously but has never been convicted of murder.
How a woman can go nearly three decades and not once during countless rehashings of the same argument think to include the detail that the source of her first born child's name was an article about the murder of a child is an enigma that I, or modern science may never fully unravel.
At the very least, we've got some new details to argue over whenever the discussion of who picked out the kid's names comes up.
If you need me I'll be in Therapy.