H Is For Hillary, A Barrel Of LaughsS

"Hillary" has obviously become famous/infamous because of its association with our First-Lady-turned-Secretary-of-State. But to me, Hillary's less class president and more party animal.

The name comes from the Latin hilaris, meaning cheerful or merry, and this seems pretty apt. In my mind, Hillary is bawdy — she likes beer, dick jokes, cheeseburgers, and sports. She got in trouble a lot in high school — mostly for talking in class and drawing naked pictures on the overhead when the teacher wasn't looking — but the authorities could never really stay mad at her. She has curly hair, which is often a mess, and she just laughs if you try to stick things in it. She favors jeans and boots, and she may have a little acne, even if she's not a teenager anymore — probably because she doesn't always bother to wash her face after a night out drinking and eating fries. Hillary's a loyal friend, and though she has some insecurities — why, for instance, are her fingernails always bitten down all the way to the quick? — she doesn't let them get in the way of a good time.

Hilary Swank seems like she could once have been this kind of Hillary. The perfectly coiffed Hilary Duff — not so much. And then, of course, there's America's premier Hillary, HRC herself. Her image, especially during the Lewinsky scandal and again as the primaries turned nasty, was pretty much the opposite of party girl. She was supposed to be shrill, power-hungry, domineering — not a laid-back lady who throws back beers with the guys. And her ambitious years at Wellesley seem to have left little time for dick jokes. But Hillary Clinton is also known for her laugh. And while she's gotten criticized for it, a laugh may actually be the sanest response to some of the shit she's had to deal with. Remember how Al Gore became cool after he stopped running for office? Maybe with the presidential campaign behind her, Hillary Clinton can let out her inner class clown.

One thing's for sure — her name is making a comeback. Hillary peaked at #268 in the eighties, then took a huge dive right around the time of that whole Lewinsky thing. By the early 2000, it had dropped out of the top 1000 baby names, only to rebound a little bit — and then dip again right around the time Hillary Clinton ran for president. This is rather depressing news — was Clinton really so hated that her very name became anathema? — but you can't keep Hillary down. The name has now rebounded to #715 — it's like it woke up with a really nasty hangover, ate some eggs, and went out to play a game of basketball.

Though it's much less popular, Hillary can also be a boy's name — and since androgynous names are supposedly having a renaissance (thanks in part to Heidi Klum's little girl Lou), maybe we'll see more little male Hillaries running around. But the Hillary I knew best was actually a hermit crab, a childhood pet I named after mountaineer Edmund Hillary (that's him in the hat). Tragically, s/he got eaten by my brother's crab, which given its personality was probably a Courtney. I came home to find what was once my crab reduced to a little pile of dismembered parts. I cried — but a Hillary probably would've found it funny.

Hillary [Baby Name Wizards]
Hillary [Wikipedia]
Gender-Bending Baby Names [The Daily Beast]