With the average life expectancy in the United States pushing 80 years, picking the wrong name for your kid could turn out to be an eight-decade mistake. Think about that. In eighty years you’ll be dead; the house you lived in, the cars you drove, the clothes you wore will probably all be recycled, rebuilt or destroyed; but your son, who is now living in an old-age facility in 2091, has to go by the name Mason S., because Mason A., Mason G., Mason L. and Mason P. live on the same floor in his retirement home, and they were all born in 2011 and also had parents who went the unoriginal route and simply picked the trendiest name available.

Mason is a solid name. In fact, I have long held that for boys, any son named after one of Steven Seagal’s movie characters is a good thing: In addition to Mason (from Hard to Kill), I also wholeheartedly endorse names like Nico (Above the Law), Gino Felino (Out for Justice), Casey (Under Siege) … and Austin, Wesley, Roland and Simon from movies you’ve probably never seen. Astonishingly, Seagal has played a character named some version of Jack or John in 10 movies (including Jack, Jake, Jacob, John and Jonathan), which makes up about one-third of his filmography and clearly accounts for the popularity of those names. But when it comes to your kid in 2011, unless you have always loved Mason, or you are named Mason (or work as a mason) and your son is going to be a Mason Junior or a mason, the name is just too popular.

Here’s a story illustrating my point:

When my wife and I had our daughter recently, one of the first nurses to come into my wife’s post-op room in the hospital looked at our baby and said: “Aww, she’s so cute. Please tell me you didn’t name her Sadie.”

She said this and paused, immediately mortified, realizing that our baby might in fact be named Sadie and that she just blurted out something to us that she and her fellow nurses had probably just been discussing in the break room. It was 3AM and a purely accidental slip on her part. I could easily see how it happened.

Of course, I told her our baby’s name was Sadie, and for a brief moment our nurse looked like she was going to break down and cry. After all, how do you walk into a hospital room, mere hours after the long-awaited bundle of joy has been born, and tell the couple that they gave it a boring, trendy name that you’re sick of?

I could have kept her going for a while, but my wife is a much better person than me and spared her, telling her that we didn’t name our daughter Sadie.

“I’m so sorry,” the nurse said. “I just, it just slipped out… But we have honestly had about ten Sadies born here in the last week and it was getting on my nerves. There are so many names out there, just pick a different one.”

Of course, I then told her my brother had a daughter named Sadie. But before she got the mortified look again, my wife told her I was lying, which I was.

In order to avoid the nurses talking behind your back about the complete lack of originality of your baby’s name, here are a list of ways to help you choose the perfect baby name, for both a boy and a girl. We’ll call this the, “Oh Shit, Not Another Sadie” list.

1) Babies named after cities or states are hit or miss. Brooklyn Decker — perfect. Dakota (either North or South) Fanning — decent. Rochester Stevenson — Huh? Did you just name your kid Rochester? Cities in Texas tend to work out best when it comes to names, like Dallas and Austin, while cities in Iowa tend to work out worst, like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

2) For girls, seasonal names seem to work well with alliterative last names. Summer Sanders — good. Summer Blaskovich — not so much. Autumn Appleton — good. Autumn Linhoffer — a little tougher. (My apologies if one of these examples happens to be your name.)

3) If you have a last name with three syllables or more, opt for a short, one-syllable first name for your kid, or at least a first name that can easily be shortened. Leonardo (Leo) DiCaprio is a good example of the latter, Jack Nicholson of the former.

4) Don’t turn everyday nouns into names. If you can find your child’s name in an aisle at the grocery store or Home Depot, you might want to pass on it.

For the complete list of Baby Naming rules, check out Chapter 2 of The Three Dollar Scholar today for $2.99.