Friday, July 23, 2010

What's In a Name?

I got asked the question today. You know the question. It's the question that every engaged woman gets asked, usually more than once. And I've found that no matter what the answer is, whoever's doing the asking always has to comment on the answer. The question, of course, is: are you changing your name?

First, I have to say that I love that this is a question that is now asked, rather than an assumption that is made. At least in my circle of friends and family, no one is assuming that I'm changing my name. But, whatever the answer is, the questioner still comments. Oh, you're changing your name? Doesn't that mean you'll lose your identity? Or, huh, you aren't going to change your name? Doesn't that mean you won't really be a family? Now, I haven't actually gotten either of those responses directly, but that seems to be the gist of the two types of responses.

When I was growing up, it was never a question for me - of course I'd take my future husband's name. I mean, why wouldn't I? My mom took my dad's name. All of my aunts took their husband's name. I believe all of my cousins (or their wives) have taken their husband's name. It didn't really dawn on me when I was little that I had a choice in the matter. So much so that I remember looking at my mom's degrees (bachelor's and master's) and not even realizing until I was graduating from college myself, that both of her degrees had her married name on them. Both of my degrees will have my current last name on them because I received both of them before I got married. Whereas my mom received hers after she and my dad got married. The point of this is that even though I knew she wasn't born with my dad's last name, it never seemed odd to me to see it on her degrees until I got to that point myself.

And that's when I started thinking about it more. I've lived for 29 years with this name. I like my name. I like my initials. I like that my name is the same as my paternal grandmother's (well, the middle name is different, but it's the same first and last name and the same three initials. So you know, close enough. So close that I was beside myself with glee when I realized at age 5 that I could sign my grandmother's credit card receipts). And now that I've been working for several years, I've begun to make a career with my name. Plus I already have issues with my first name (my legal first name is not what I go by socially - I blame my mother, but since I like both of the names and would never dream of legally changing my first name, it's not like that's ever going to change), and the idea of having potential confusion about both my first and last names isn't super appealing to me.

But. I always thought I would take my husband's name. And that's an odd thing suddenly to be reconsidering as I get closer to the day when I have to decide. Mr. EB and I have talked about it, and while he would prefer I take his name, he completely respects that it's my decision and he's fine with whatever I end up choosing.

But do you want to hear the secret real reason I'm stuck on this? The honest to goodness, when I really let myself go there reason for why I'm not necessarily jumping with joy to change my name? The first letter of Mr. Eggs Bene's last name starts with A. The first letter of my last name starts with a W. I have always been an end of the alphabet person. Always. Generally not the last person, but pretty close. And it weirds me out to no end that I will be at the front of the alphabet for the rest of my life. As Mr. Eggs Bene says, what's the big deal? He's been there his whole life and he's turned out fine! Plus, now that I'm not in elementary school (or law school for that matter), when the hell does anyone ever order people by last names anyway? I have no idea. BUT they could! And I would have to go first! Evidently I have a weird phobia about potentially being first that didn't manifest itself until realizing I would be stuck there forever.

Anyway. Yeah. I completely realize that it's a dumb thing to have a hang up about. And no, I won't let that be the ultimate reason for whatever I decide. But yes, that really is my deep down secret reason for why I'm still questioning whether I'm going to change my name.


  1. If you and B decide to have children and it's a boy, you should name him Anton. Anton A.

  2. Ha! I think I can pretty safely guarantee that that will not be on our short list for names.


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