So! From the dazed look in your eye, we can tell you've gotten word you'll be having one of those Y2K babies. No doubt you're feeling some pressure to come up with the perfect name for a child born in -- gulp -- the year 2000. Whatcha gonna do?
Well, how about Mulder if it's a boy, Scully if it's a girl? Too '90s? Maybe Keanu for a boy, Celine for a girl? Or how about . . . Beck? Caleb? Eden? Lane? Logan? Quince? Tobias? Or . . . Dalia? Daria? Fatima? Grace? Maeve? Paris? Tandy?
Word is that some couples expecting babies around Jan. 1 are planning to call their offspring "Millennium" or variations thereof. The folks at the Web site BabyZone.com know of one tot whose middle name will be Millie if a girl, Lennie if a boy -- as long as the baby is born on New Year's Day.
Milford, Millennia, Millicent, Mills and Milo are other millennium baby-name possibilities, according to BabyCenter.com, another Web site.
Many of the couples having babies these days are Gen-Xers, which includes twenty-somethings and people in their early thirties. Plenty of these couples will go with Jessica, Emily, Ashley or Kaitlyn, or Michael, Matthew, Christopher or Jacob -- all among the en-vogue names now. (Michael has been leading the male names pack for 35 years.)
Joal Ryan, author of "Puffy, Xena, Quentin, Uma and 10,000 Other Names for Your New Millennium Baby" (Plume, $13.95), says two groups of Gen-Xers are likely to search for off-the-beaten-path monikers. One includes all of us with "peanut butter-and-jelly" names -- bland, easily digestible, four-to-a-homeroom names.
"That's why there are so many Jennifers," said Ryan, 31, from New York, where she's a staff writer at E! Online. "More than Generation X, I think we're Generation Jennifer."
The other group, Ryan says, is made up of the Gen-Xers who got stuck with hippie-dippy names -- River, Moonbeam, Karma, etc. On the other hand, if these people grew up despising their names (and maybe their parents), they're likely to bestow more traditional names on their own kids.
Nicole Calcara, 24, who lives in Brookside, Mo., was lucky enough to have been given a name that wasn't too common: "Growing up, I was the only Nikki, really." Likewise, her firstborn, due June 23, will have a name you don't see too often: Isabella.
"Isabella is just a pretty name I had on my list," Calcara says. Other candidates included Claudia, Paulina, Helena and Sophia.
Isabella was the only name on that list her husband, Carl, would go for.
"He wanted (the baby's) middle name to be Nicole and I wanted it to be something different, so we just went with his," Calcara says. "I'm more flexible. He's pretty picky."
At BabyZone.com, based in Fort Lauderdale, 120 or so couples who are expecting around Jan. 1 have been keeping pregnancy journals that are posted on the Web site. Of those couples, "We're noticing a strong trend in unusual spellings and unique baby names," publisher Jeanine Cox says.
Among them: Aliziah, Darby, Seven, Madeline, Alejandro, Zachery, Mi'hojah, Jonah and Eliot.
One journal-keeping expectant mom jokes that she'd like to name her child "Wytukaye."
Compared with previous generations, fewer 20-somethings feel obligated to give their children family names. That's partly because families these days often are more fragmented, geographically and otherwise. Plus, a lot of Gen-Xers just want to do their own thing.
Names inspired by pop culture -- such as TV and movie characters and the celebs who play them -- will continue to be big. At least a couple of unfortunate babes have reportedly been christened Anakin, as in Anakin Skywalker. On the "Mad About You" series finale this spring, which looked into the future, Paul's cousin Ira had kids with names like Beavis and Shania. Pretty funny, and prescient, too: Shania (as in Twain) truly is expected to be a popular name -- at least as long as she is.
In her book, author Joal (named for her parents, JOhn and ALice) Ryan runs down the pluses and minuses of various names. She also sticks some in categories most parents will want to avoid.
Cody, for instance, is both a "cuddly bear" name and a "lil' cowpoke" name (popularized by chat queen Kathie Lee Gifford); "little princess" name Alexandra is "an exquisite tiara-ready, girlie-girl name."
Which baby names could be The Next Big Thing? Some of Ryan's prognostications:
Boys Bailey: Scott Wolf's "nice 'n' cute good guy" character on "Party of Five."
Harry: Think Britain's little prince.
Leo: The name Hope and Michael gave their son on "Thirtysomething." Short for Leonardo, of course, a name that should rise (fall?) in titanic proportion to DiCaprio's career.
Levi: The biblical peer of Aaron and Jacob, although it could inspire bluejeans jokes.
Tighe: "Tiger-esque" -- think Tiger Woods -- without being nearly so literal.
Girls Alice: Like Emily but not as overused.
Cali: Short for Calista, which, Ryan notes, isn't as funny-sounding as it once was thanks to the fame of the "Ally McBeal" star. Cali is "unique and elegant and fit for today."
Lilith: Plus -- The namesake of the all-girl summer concert tour. Minus -- Still remembered as Frasier Crane's uptight ex.
Maya: From dignified poet Maya Angelou.
Skylar: "A new power name to help ease the gridlock at the Madison-Morgan-Taylor intersection."