Now THAT'S How You Insert a Tom Cruise Reference in Your Post

Remember those stories about Tom Cruise buying his own sonogram machine when Katie Holmes was pregnant and everyone thought he was climbing up yet another rung on the Insane Ladder?

I totally empathize with the dude. All I want to do is look at the little guy movin' around in there.

So things are moving along in the story that is WE'RE HAVING A BABY. The Missus is finally popping, the baby's kicking (for her at least - we haven't gotten to where I can reliably feel it yet), room decorations are being planned, and every member both our families are mad at us because we won't give out the name of the baby. I don't know where this came from - when we first found out she was pregnant, we already had the names picked out. But for some reason my wife immediately said to me, "We're not telling ANYONE the baby's name." At the time I couldn't for the life of me understand why.

Now I know. Allow me to wax poetic for a few moments on the whole baby-name spectacle as I've witnessed it first-hand from my wife's family.

Last weekend my wife went to her cousin's Baby Shower. Her baby's due in mid-March. Her father is sick and has been on dialysis for the past 2 years, so as an act of love she and her husband wanted to name the child after him - Pietro. The problem? Her sister-in-law has an 8-year old son, and his name is Peter. When this cousin kindly asked her sister-in-law as a common courtesy whether she would mind if she also named her son Peter, the sister-in-law responded with a flat no way. Her son was going to be the only son named after Uncle Pete, and there was going to be no arguing the point.

Here's the thing: Italian people take the naming of children very seriously. The tradition, as it's been explained to me, says that a couple's first son and daughter should be named after the husband's parents. If another child of the same sex comes, it can come from the wife's side. If the immediate parents' names are not used, then grandparents or, to a lesser extent, aunts, uncles, or godparents can be used. This process causes more debate, more in-fighting, and more behind the clothesline gossip and backstabbing than a WWE Battle Royale.

Now our own dilemma is three-fold. Issue #1: There's no way in Hell I'm going to name our son after my father. Besides the fact there are approximately 10,000 unresolved issues between the two of us, there's the additional fact that my father was born in Germany, and came over here in the 1950's with the incredibly graceful and eloquent nom de plume Norbert Hienrich.

Norbert. Yeah, that's going to fly over real well in the schoolyard. I remember my dad telling me the first thing my father did when he went to school in America was tell everyone his name was Sam. So there's no way either he or I are going to allow my son to walk around with that name doggin' his every step.

Even my in-laws agree with that. So of course tradition would dictate that we then name the kid after someone from their side of the family. But here's Issue #2: Although I'm pretty easy going about most things regarding the raising of our kids (agreeing that they'll learn to speak Italian, be raised Catholic until their old enough to decide for themselves, not let them watch EVIL DEAD until they're old enough to understand it's just a movie), the one stance I'm absolutely firm on is that they will NOT have an Italian-sounding name. Nothing against my family-by-marriage at all - I love them just as much as my own immediate family. It's just that I've been the "outsider" in a way for the 15 years my wife and I have been together, and I'm proud of standing out in a crowd of people named Antonio, Franco, Nino, etc... I want our kids to be raised as Americans of German and Italian descent, and not fall into the unfortunately more-accurate-than-not stereotype of the typical NYC Italian that is a staple with many of my wife's relatives.

Man, I hope that doesn't come across as bigoted, or racist, or xenophobic or anything like that. It's not meant to be at all.

So my stance has ruled out naming the boy after any of my wife's relatives. We want to start fresh, with names that we picked for our reason, and to add some individuality and diversity into a family practically blue-blooded with their names.

And that rolls into Issue #3. We already know that neither of our parents are going to like the name. My in-laws because it's not Italian, not Christian, and not even a popular name (although I disagree). We're also fighting an uphill battle with my mother, who has told us any name is fine with her, only to say it has to be a proper name. I found out later that nicknames don't qualify as proper names. In other words, Hank is a fine nickname, but that just means his full name has to be Henry. Chuck is nice for a nickname as long as the birth certificate says Charles.

And you see, the name we picked kind of falls into that category. Not precisely, but enough that we're already expecting grief from my mom.

So we're going with total silence until that sucker pops out and we can fill out the birth certificate. No point arguing when the ink's already dry!