I did not see this coming.
When Taylisha and I started the process of picking names for our twins, we didn’t yet know the genders. But even before the gender reveal, we had settled on one name: Caron Nasir Burton. If we had two boys, or a boy and a girl, Caron would be one of the boy names.
Now, I thought it was pretty clear that it’s pronounced “cuh-ron,” like you’d say “career” but put “ron” after the first syllable.
Maybe the sports fan / sports media professional in me overestimated the popularity of former NBA All-Star and current FOX Sports 1 analyst Caron Butler. I thought anyone who knew a little bit about basketball would see my son’s name and recognize it right away. For everyone else, it looked phonetic enough to not be difficult.
The only potential miscommunication I saw with Caron’s name was — given the timing of his summer 2020 birth — that some people might think our choice was inspired by the coronavirus. “Caron Nasir” … “corona” … We’d picked the name well before the pandemic captured the world’ attention, but I couldn’t stand the idea of someone thinking we would be so corny.
As it turns out, our first-born’s name would instead become confused with another name that has been trending for all the wrong reasons in 2020: Karen.
The first time it happened was on the day the twins were born. One of the NICU nurses came into Caron’s room, read his chart and said, “And is it … Karen?”
Um, NO. I asked myself, “Why would someone see ‘Caron’ and think it could be … uh-oh.”
It had never occurred to myself or Tay in all of the months since we’d picked Caron that someone could read it as “Karen,” which is now the universal moniker given to quintessential White suburban mom who calls the cops on Black people for no reason, belittles retail workers with no remorse, can’t stand waiting in line, won’t let anyone tell her to wear a face mask during a pandemic, and says things like “ALL lives matter.”
Since that first time, it’s happened no less than a dozen times. Family, friends, doctors, nurses, receptionists … basically anyone who’s seen his name in print.
We’ve also heard “Kay-ron” and “Ca-rone,” but the most common mispronunciation is the dreaded “Karen.”
Nobody told me this would happen, and I’m not thrilled about it. I think I’d like to see the manager…