salinger-inspired baby names, and why i can’t use them

I just received the following message from Mr. Smallwood, our representative in Washington. It seems though all our talk of JD Salinger and baby names shook a neuron loose in his noggin. Heres his note:

All your talk of baby names kept reminding me of something I read in the Joyce Maynard book. I went to the library during lunch and checked it out. Here (on p. 177 of the hardback) is the passage I remembered. Joyce has been living with Salinger and they’ve begun talking about having a baby, which they’ve decided will be a girl:

“…the baby plan has continued to the point where a name has been selected for our future child. It’s an odd name- not a name at all.

‘I dreamed you and I had a baby,’ he tells me one morning. ‘I saw her face clearly. Her name was Bint.’ He looks the word up in the dictionary. ‘What do you know?’ Jerry says. ‘It’s archaic British, for little girl.’ From this point on, we refer to our future child by the name from Jerry’s dream.”

Then, on p. 209, when Salinger has decided she needs to leave & she’s packing her stuff up:

“After everything is loaded in the trunk, I go back in the house alone just one more time before leaving for good, to make sure the heat is turned down again and to turn out the lights. On the window of Jerry’s bedroom, where the glass is dusty, I write, with my finger, the name of the child we had talked about: BINT.”

Very sad. And a crappy name, too.

Unfortunately, Linette doesnt like the name. Unlike me, she apparently cant separate the fact that Salinger is a nasty and angry old man from the fact that he is, or was, a gifted writer She heard his daughter interviewed on the radio once and it traumatized her. I, fortunately, didnt hear this interview. (I did, however, see his son, Matt Slinger, portray a fratboy by the name of Danny Burke in the film Revenge of the Nerds (1984), but I got over it.)

The bottom line is that Linette sees Salinger as a creep and, as a result, she wont let me name the baby Bint, Franny, Zoey, or anything else that carries the slightest trace of his mark.

Heres a thought for our operative in Cornish, New Hampshire though. What if he tiptoes onto Salingers property and writes Bint in the dust on his bedroom window?

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