NameVoyager, a neat little tool making the blog rounds, shows that soft initials (vowels, consonants like “n”) are definitely trending in, along with odd initials–Q and Z, for instance. (for some reason, I remember that Infiniti chose those as model initials precisely because they were underused in the language.) In the history of initials, boomers received a lot of names with hard consonant initials (K, P, T), and those are fading.
And yes, my parents were really cutting edge with my name. Payton/Peyton now accounts for 2 in 1000 babies, from almost non-existent in 1980 to both spellings landing in the top 300 (soon top 200) names for both girls and boys. Indeed, Crate & Barrel is now advertising a “Payton” series of wine glasses — perhaps the ultimate indicator of its popularity with the yuppie set. And just last week or so, my yuppie neighbors across the hall christened their baby boy — yup — Payton, making the kid only the second Payton I’ve met, ever. (The other was an old-South scion in the All-State orchestra in, er, ninth grade?) Although I’ve long liked my name, it gets misspelled so often that I’ve taken to making up names at sandwich shops that tag orders with names. (My favorite: Theo, brother of Vincent van Gogh.)
That said, I’m glad that Payton doesn’t appear on Stephen Levitt’s list of most popular names of 2005. Does my name’s increasing popularity (and thus declining exclusivity) portend that, come middle age, I’ll be surrounded with déclassé hooligans named Payton/Peyton? Young children want to have common names, but older children and adults like unique names, and hopefully I won’t end up in the odd position of having had an exceedingly rare name as a young child and a boring, familiar name as an adult.
(Update 11/2005: Not only did my next-door neighbors name their kid Payton [shortly before moving out], but the Brookfield Zoo named their baby polar bear after me.)