Thursday, July 14, 2011

What’s In A Name?


Really, I mean it – everything. Your parents took great care in selecting your birth name and, regardless of your personal opinions on the degree to which you like or dislike it, it has – over the many years you’ve owned that name – come to be a pretty major part of your identity.

Now, I’m not saying that your name bears any meaning at all over how you will act as a person or what you will achieve in life – I recently saw a documentary that listed my first name as among the top 5 girl names in terms of intelligence … and it also ranked among the top 5 in terms of illiteracy … which really just proves that my name is a popular one. So clearly, name aside, you are who you are – and, yes, (sorry Shakespeare) a rose by any other name would probably smell just as sweet – but I think we can all agree that if tomorrow everyone just started calling you “Carl” you’d probably take issue with it (unless your name actually is “Carl,” in which case I shall now call you “Bob” – you get my point).

Your surname is probably even more important. It is a piece of your ancestry handed down through the ages – given only to those privileged enough to be born into your specific family (you lucky devil you). And yet, the discarding of one’s last name and replacing it with someone else’s is a common practice in today’s society. So common, in fact, that nearly all women gleefully toss away their old, given to them by birthright, surname like a used up tube of toothpaste shortly after saying “I do.”

Putting aside the implied meanings behind this patriarchal ownership ritual, the mere thought of waiting in long lines at the Social Security Office to make such a change sends shivers down my spine. Hey man, this is frightening stuff! More lines at the DMV, countless calls to credit card companies, banks, mortgage holders, cable providers, Netflix (though with their new 60% price hike my only call to them will be to cancel my services), car companies, insurance agents, doctor’s offices, frequent flyer mile providers, passport agencies, PayPal accounts, preferences – oh sure, they SAY you can do this stuff online, but the next time you log on it’s all wonky again. And the sending of mass e-mails to everyone, letting them know how to find you now in your company database (I’m sure you’ve forgotten to tell someone along the way) or facebook – how will old friends track you down on facebook? Not to mention those coveted e-mail usernames you’ve been holding onto since the early 90s – do you change your AIM screen name? Must you add a series of numbers to the end of your hotmail log on in order to secure your new name? What if someone who hasn’t written you in 12 years decides that now they want to drop you a line at your old address? Where will this message go? WHERE I ASK YOU???

Honestly, I think you’re all crazy. I mean, I love ya – but you’re nuts.

And, above all, I love my Groom-A-Saurus Rex. But I’m not taking his name. That is his special name and it means a great deal to him … just like my name means a whole heck of a lot to me (for reasons that far exceed my disdain for waiting in line at government bureaus). And we’re both just fine with that. So no need to worry – come Sept. 5 you can all still reach me in the same manner as you’ve always done … call me the same thing you’ve come to know me by over all these years … and (this one is really the key point here) stop being concerned about how I’m bucking thousands of years of protocol – I’m sure our hypothetical future children that you all assume we’ll be having will fare just fine with whatever set of names we choose to bestow upon them – even if it does put him/her in the list of “top 5 names of children who can’t juggle whist riding a bicycle and whistling Dixie.”

I know I’m not the only woman who’s struggled with this decision. The list of hyphenated names in my address book grows larger each year. And, no matter what you chose to henceforth call yourself, I respect your decision (and even memorized the proper spelling and pronunciation – no matter how long or convoluted it is). So breathe a big sigh of relief at how easy I’m making this on all of you – you don’t even have to correct your Outlook Contacts! – and embrace this lack of change. ‘Cause after all these years, I really do love my name … just the way it is. Although, come to think of it, Princess Consuela Banana Hammock really does have a nice ring to it as well …

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