Patrick: The bleeding continues

My first name has suffered its 15th straight year of losses, according to Social Security’s baby name list. Patrick fell to 129th place among boys in 2009, two spots below last year and its worst showing since 1928.

Meanwhile, continuing last year’s worrisome trend, Cooper as a boy first name improved to 84th place. The only good news was that the name still didn’t hit the girl list. And Cooper Patrick had a good year.

I’m at a loss. Patrick Dempsey, Neil Patrick Harris, Danica Patrick, the death of Patrick Swayze? Did they do nothing for our Patrick people?

Cooper Patrick still trouble for Patrick Cooper

As I’m sure you’ve seen elsewhere, the 2008 baby name data is out. Localizing the story as any good journalist must do (ElvisNews.com: “Don’t get all shook up, but Elvis fell from 673 in 2007 to 713 in 2008”), I have to inform you “Patrick” has fallen again. The name has dropped from #116 in 2007 to a rough #127 in 2008, its worst mark since 1928. Meanwhile, “Cooper” has risen again to a record, from #96 in 2007 to #92 in 2008. Once again, Cooper Patrick is the new Patrick Cooper.

One of my favorite visualization tools, here’s NameVoyager’s chart of Patrick usage per million babies. Dive in and do your own lookups.

baby-name-voyager

Stats on Cooper Patrick? Or twins

I wrote this post Sunday and intended it to run today. But a surprise last night made it much more fun. Let’s start with the original, then update.

“We could run a regression to figure this out. For instance, we could see when the Mini-Cooper was introduced and see if ‘Cooper’ babies show up in the data dispropriately that month. Or we could look at the trajectory of Anderson Cooper’s ratings. Can we get the data by month — that would help with isolating cause and effect…”

In the spring, we looked at the rise of Cooper — and the fall of Patrick — as a first name. Amit offered the above advice and suggested I write baby Cooper Patrick to ask his parents about their name choice.

I did so, including my guesses on influences, if not for them then for others in the rising tide: Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Anderson Cooper and the Mini-Cooper. Not surprisingly, I got no reply. Spam filter? Random Internet pop culture baby name speculators, we get no respect.

If I had to bet, I’d have put my money on Mini-Cooper. It moved the name beyond particular people, placed it gently aside an increasingly popular brand but kept a human quality. The attitude and human aspects seemed key. There was no trend of baby Touaregs.

Yahoo Answers offered little help. “Do you like the name Cooper for a boy or does it sound too much like a last name?” came closest. The top user answer: “It’s a good name — though trendy on two fronts — The surname as first name and the job-related trends (think Archer). So if you are looking to stay away from trendy, you’d have to keep looking.”

With no evidence on the names, I have to admit I gave up. The topic was always one that could be revisited, especially if the rise continued. But I ended up finding some reward. Clicking through Social Security’s name data, I came across the most popular names for sets of twins. The bookmark surfaced again last week, prompting this post.

Landon and Logan, Madison and Morgan, Jayden and Jaylen. Yes, my name’s bizarro was winning, but at least I wasn’t a twin name.

Now: The update!

With this post hours away from publishing, the father of Cooper Patrick randomly found this blog. Five months after I e-mailed the baby’s site and likely got lost in a spam filter, we could thank Google and a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere. Then, even better, Cooper Patrick’s mother wrote to give the long-awaited story on their name.

They turned out to be cool, and the mom was even a Herald reporter.  “People always joke that we have a domain name for our son, but here’s why – my husband works in IT,” Jennie Piedra commented. “And as for the name Cooper, we just loved it. Patrick is a family name.”

So: Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper did not influence the naming of her baby. Jennie wrote in an e-mail, however, that people ask she and her husband all the time if Cooper is named after the Mini-Cooper.

(In other news, Cooper Patrick loves crackers and spaghetti.)

Through the looking glass, and what Patrick found there

Welcome to Cooperpatrick.com.

I wrote that sentence five seconds ago because it was kind of funny and ridiculous to contemplate. In the moment since, my browser fell on the actual, somehow existing, all-too-real Cooperpatrick.com. An all-too-real newborn named Cooper Patrick had the address.

Why did I think of that address today? What led me to think someone in the world might one day have such a name? How surprised was I to find that day had not only arrived but also came with photo galleries?

Data, my friends. Mind-boggling data set me to blogging today. And just as I was joking to forget, and the punchline hit me in the face and the gut and the place in my soul where my name lives.

You see, Social Security yesterday released its annual review of the country’s most popular baby names. There were few changes to the top 10 lists in 2007, and the wires covered the news only briefly.

Looking deeper into the data, I was disappointed but not surprised to see Patrick had fallen several more spots. The name had been tumbling on the boy name list for decades. Last year’s data saw Patrick fall to #116, its worst baby-name showing since 1930.

Then I looked for Cooper. The search was a whim.

The results knocked me over. Cooper had somehow risen 18 spots in 2007 to become name #95. Among the first names, Cooper was now 21 spots ahead of Patrick. For the first time in recorded American history, my last name was a more popular first name than my own first name. The world had turned my name inside out.

I made a chart to help with the realization.

A few weeks ago, I’d saved the New York Times story about people with the same name finding each other online. I thought I might recap my close encounters with Patrick Cooper the stylist to the stars, Patrick Cooper the author, Patrick Cooper the British child, Patrick Cooper who used to have this URL, and Pat Cooper the comedian.

How soon we became old news.

A Jabberwock had struck. Cooper Patrick was the new Patrick Cooper.

Patrick popularity declines

What’s wrong with you people? What’s wrong with you, America? Don’t you like my name anymore? According to Social Security Adminstration statistics, you like it less and less with each passing day. Decades of advancement are slowly being reversed.

See, back in the early 1900s, we didn’t have it so easy. From 1900-1909, “Patrick” was only the 114th most popular boy baby name in the United States. In the 1910s, things got worse; my name slipped to 156th most popular.

But beginning then, we began one heck of a run. The name improved to 142nd in the 1920s, 107th in the 1930s, 57th in the 1940s, and 40th in the 1950s. Finally, the name hit its peak in the 1960s: 32nd.

The 1970s, unfortunately, would signal a turn — a turn against my name. The name dropped to 37th during that decade and 38th in the 1980s. The 1990s would take it back to 44th and the trend didn’t stop there. In 2000, the name sunk to 69th. In 2001? 73rd. In 2002? 80th.

The New York Times Magazine analyzes the baby naming of America in this week’s issue. They had experts predict the top baby names of 2010. Patrick did not make the list. Going number one most popular to number 10, the boy’s top list comprised: Ethan, Connor, Jaden, Cole, Jack, Caleb, Liam, Julian, Elijah, Own, Tristan, and Dominic.

As someone who may have children by 2010 (age 30), I dislike these popular named children already. “Patrick” will surely suffer for their parents’ choices.