These are the Jennifers I know


I’ve come out of my shell in the last year, networking and socializing and the like. The one odd side effect of this is an explosion of Jennifers.

You heard me: I’m swimming in Jennifers.

Jen warned me about this: A clever book called “The Baby Name Wizard” has a clever site that charts the relative popularity of names from the past century. You can see all names, all boys’ names, all girls’ names or a name of your choosing.

(“Freakonomics,” which recently reached its one-year anniversary, also spends a chapter on baby names, melding innovative economic research with sociological posits. The chapter: “Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?” complete with study guide.)


For instance, Wade (the name, not the person) hit its popularity in the 1960s, with more than 300 babies out of every million babies (or half-million boys) given the name.


But Jennifer was the No. 1 name in the 1970s. Close to 18,000 out of every million babies (or half-million girls) were blessed or cursed with the moniker. In 2004, it’s still in the Top 40 of names, whereas Wade never cracked the Top 200 at its peak and today is ranked a lowly No. 522.

The Wades I know, alas, would be a very short story. (Only one other springs to mind, a high school classmate at times rumored to be dead, still very much alive or me. I assure you he is not me.)

These are the Jennifers I know. Some of them are Jens, one is Jenny. They come from different moms.

(in alphabetical order)

Jennifer: Married then divorced one of my friends. They both moved on to bigger and better, but she got the toaster oven.

Jennifer: College housemate. Went from happy-go-lucky to unbalanced in two semesters in our six-person nuthouse. Likely much saner nowadays.

Jennifer: High school classmate who became a doctor. Never did understand her penchant for babies or “Pure Country.”

Jennifer: Not a high school classmate by several years. I still owe her an e-mail. Once told her she looked like a Dixie Chick.

Jennifer: Another non-high school classmate by one year. She was Jennifer Something and then got married and became Jennifer Something Else.

Jennifer: Another high school classmate who looked pretty much the same at the 15-year reunion.

Jennifer: A colleague from the newspaper who went on to become a great reporter and mom and wife. I knew her back when.

Jennifer: The first Jennifer I ever dated. A short relationship, but no regrets. Probably mother of my child.

Jennifer: College classmate and pep band manager. I think I stayed on her good side for the one semester as conductor and five semesters as member. Still waiting for that promised invitation to her wedding.

Jennifer: An online crush in progress.

Jennifer: A new face in town into the film scene and Macs.

Jennifer: A local moviemaker who throws great Oscar parties and is trying to fund a new film.

Jennifer: Another high school classmate who I haven’t seen since.

Jennifer: My new real-life pal and e-mail chat buddy who doesn’t know me well enough yet to know that I’m a bitter old fool.

Jennifer: Another high school classmate who I see all the time and advises me on clothes and grooming. She has cats, but I still like her.

Jennifer: Another high school classmate who was rumored to be a baby machine and a drug addict. Hopefully not at the same time.

Jennifer: A composite of five Jennifers who didn’t work out as online crushes.

Twenty-one Jennifers … hit me.


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