Dear Ian, We actually chose your middle name first. Your father and I had gone back and forth about using family names versus unique names, with his family tending to throw all the relatives' names in a hat and choose from that versus ours trying to find new ones.
Jacob was a good middle name for us to choose for you. I've always liked the name, having only known one Jacob in high school and he seemed like a nice guy. It's your uncle Lee's middle name. It was your great uncle Jay's name as well as your great-grandfather's name.
Having started with that, it helped us narrow down a first name that went well with Jacob. Your Grandaddy Powell thought that having a middle name of Jacob really limited the choices for a first name. This is the same man, though, who was picking names like Ebert, Barry and Alvin as your first name so let's take that with a grain of salt. Grandaddy Powell even filibustered at length in the hospital waiting room about how awful Jacob is as a middle name, undaunted by your Uncle Lee telling him that was his middle name. You'll get used to things like that from your grandaddy.
We thought about Bruce after Bruce Campbell, but didn't want to give you the initials BJ. When you're a little bit older, you'll understand why that's funny. I wanted to name you Warren after Warren Ellis but after saying it several times it didn't seem to go well with our last name.
Felix was a contender (after Felix Unger) for a while but never really stuck. I also petitioned hard for Finley but for some reason your father was against the name Finn as a nickname. Nolan was in the short list for a bit but never really wowed us.
The short list of names as we headed to the hospital was Sam, Henry or Ian.
Sam could have been short for Samuel or Samson. I liked Samson better but combined with the S in Stryker it was just out of control. And it didn't seem fair to give you a standard nickname that everyone would assume was short for Samuel and have it be short for something much less common (see people named Sam that's short for Samwise). Samuel gained popularity with the badassness that is Samuel L Jackson. But as we kept saying Sam Stryker over and over, it sounded more and more like a comic book character's alter ego (Peter Parker, Lois Lane, Bruce Banner, Clark Kent ... you get the idea).
I really wanted to name you Henry. As we headed to the hospital, I was nearly convinced that's the name we would be coming home with. As I was getting my nails done during early labor, my nail tech even said as much. But again, we were more in love with the nickname than the name. I wanted to name you Henry after Henry Rollins. Unfortunately, Mr. Rollins is really the only Henry that fits that image and he's not the first Henry that folks think of. We both liked the nickname of Hank, though, and Hank Stryker sounded like a fine dude to hang out with. Think of all the other fine Hanks in the world. Hank Williams, Hank Azaria, Hank McCoy (Beast from the X-Men). But then there is Hank Hill from King of the Hill and while lying in the hospital recovering from having you, that TV show came on the air and Henry/Hank was no longer in the running.
So that left Ian. It's not crazy common, but it's not like naming you Jayvion (ranked 977 on the Social Security web site of names for 2008). There are also many fine Ians out there. Ian MacKaye is the lead singer for Fugazi (and best friends with Henry Rollins). Ian McKellen was Gandolf the White in the Lord of the Rings. Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond novels.
And then there was one of the few Ians I knew personally. Ian was the first boy who ever asked me to be his girlfriend. We were in the 8th grade. He actually wrote out the question on a piece of paper decorated with drawings of the Giger's alien and those little green planets from the cover of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He wrote the note and had his best friend Richard hand it to me after science class.
But if you think your mother is an overthinker and worrier now, you should have seen me at age 12. I carried that note around for two days worrying over what I should say. I really liked Ian but I'd never had a boyfriend before and wasn't sure what all the serious implications would be. So I told him no but that I'd still like to be his friend. And unwittingly at only 12 years old, I broke a boy's heart. I've regretted it ever since.
Ian and I did remain friends for years. He bought me my first Dead Milkmen tape for my birthday. He still drew lots of pictures for me. He eventually went on to art school after high school, but I lost track of him after that.
So while you're not named after any of those Ians in particular, you are certainly in good company. And I'll be there when your heart gets broken. And if you become famous, I'll always be your first fan.