Thursday, November 08, 2007

Bella's Back

Today is my birthday and I'm in my hometown of New York, so I am thinking of my childhood, especially the first name I was saddled with. When I was growing up, there were plenty of grandmothers named Bella--mine, for instance. (I've since learned that it's an old family tradition to be named after grandparents, as were my father and his sister, who suggested my name). But there were no other kids. I didn't even meet anyone named Bella till I was eight: a young Welsh woman at a party in London.

The girls I knew all had names like Suzie or Kathy or Linda or Debbie. I asked my mother countless times why she didn't give me one of those names. She countered that Bella meant "beautiful," and she thought I was the most beautiful baby in the world. Obviously the drugs she'd been given during childbirth affected her perception; plus she was terribly nearsighted. For not only did I look like my father, but my head was misshapen and pointed from the forceps that all obstetricians insisted on using then (unneccessarily in my case; I was born so fast that all he really should have had to do was catch). My only consolation for the endless puns and jokes about "Bella" that I was already being blasted with by the tender age of five--I've heard them all since then, trust me--was to name my dog Suzie.

Then a few years ago, I started running across dogs named Bella; there were four in Charlottesville, VA, alone, from an ugly little mutt to an enormous Great Dane. Last week I met another Bella dog in Denver. All of them are glossy black, so at least they share my fashion sense.

I'd seen grandparents' names like Jake, Max, Hannah and Sophie start with dogs, then make the jump to children. So I predicted that Bella would be next. And I was right: After not even breaking the top thousand since 1931, Bella went from #748 in the list of most popular baby names in 2000 to #181 in 2006. Isabella was #4 in 2006. So there are A LOT of Bellas (or, sadly, Izzies) starting to run around.

Bella has jumped to business too. Bed Bath & Beyond had a Bella bedding line; there are also Bella Notte and Baby Bella linens. Last night I walked by a downtown flooring store with Bellawood products and had dinner at Bella Cucina on upper Lexington Ave. Today on Columbus Ave. I passed Bella Luna restaurant and made dinner reservations for Saturday at nearby Isabella's.

P.S. And now there's Bella the movie, winner of the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.

13 comments:

Eileen said...

Happy Birthday. Sorry to hear about your misshapen forceps head. I'm hoping that evened out later. For the record I think Bella is a great name.

Katie Alender said...

Happy birthday, Bella!

I was named after my grandmothers as well... and everyone and their brother has a dog named Katie!

Christian said...

My father is from Italy, the old country. After he was born, his dad (my nonno) was on his bicycle riding to the hospital to fill up the birth certificate. His wife had told him what name to use, but somehow he forgot it on the way over. He sat down on a bench to rest and struck up a conversation with a man sitting beside him. He asked the stranger his name, and the man said "Alfredo." So nonno thought that was as good a name as any, and that's my father's name today. Named after some guy on a bench.

Hey, happy birthday, Ms B!

Lisa said...

Happy Happy Birthday to you, beautiful Bella :)

I've always noticed I'm among the oldest people I know named, Lisa and then there are scads that are several years younger. Had I been named after a grandmother (either of them), I'd have been either Lillian or Cyrilla --- hmm

Melodye said...

Happy Birthday, Bella. Thank you for gifting us with your blog!

Bella Stander said...

Thanks, everyone! I had a Swell Time yesterday. (My last dog was Katie, as is my niece.)

Guy Davis said...

Happy birthday Bella. Visit the Baby Name Map to see the popularity of your name around the world.

Bella makes the charts in New York City, Vermont, as well as parts of Canada, Australia, and Europe.

Sustenance Scout said...

I know a first grader named Bella who's a firecracker, as my mom would say. The name fits her as well as you! And yes, it's one of my favorites. That and Eva, my grandmother's name, which also happens to be the name of another girl in my daughter's class. Funny how names cycle from the traditional to the trendy and back again.

Somehow I can't imagine Lisa as a Lillian. LILLY, though...!

name meaning said...

I actually love the name Bella.The name meaning is beautiful.

Christine Fletcher said...

Happy Birthday, Bella!

This is the coolest baby name site I know -- I use it to research characters names, and then I always waste at least another 20 minutes plugging in names just to watch the interactive graph-thingies.

http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html

According to this, "Bella" is more popular now than ever before...going all the way back to 1880!

Bella Stander said...

Took me a while to figure out how to search names (by clicking on a name, then backspacing & typing...duh), but then I too had fun with the interactive graph-thingies. What a great time-waster!

Mr. Obie Joe said...

My last child (and I say last, rather than youngest given my advanced age), was named Ella as a variation of her father's name, so I am a big fan of acknowledging those who've gone before.

Happy Birthday Bella! May the new year continue the path to restored health....

Geneva in TX said...

Bella Luna is my daughter's name. Everywhere we go (shopping, the park, Chuck E Cheese) there seems to be at least one other Bella about my daughter's age (3). But no other Bella Luna's! :)