Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Last Name is…Uh…

I was writing a letter to a customer the other day and used an old formatted letter to the same person. (This is called being lazy as I was merely avoiding looking up and typing his name and address over again.) Anyway, I finished editing and proofing the letter and was just about ready to print it when I realized the signature line contained my former last name instead of my new married last name.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that my last name has, in fact, changed. When I have to give my full name over the phone I invariably hesitate between stating my first and last names. It’s like I have to stop and think about it. “My name is Jane…uh…” I’m sure people on the other end of the line must think I’m a little slow. Either that or maybe they have wild imaginations and think I’m some nefarious character using a list of aliases or, hey, maybe I’m in the witness protection program and can’t remember which new name I’ve been assigned.

Or maybe it’s just me with the wild imagination and the person on the other end of the phone line couldn’t care less why I’ve hesitated before stating my full name.

Sometimes I’ve been waiting in line and have heard the clerk call my new name and for a second I don’t realize it’s my name they’ve called. Wonder when that will change?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m in denial or am hesitating because I don’t like my new last name or have a problem being married or any other psychological situation here. No, it’s just that I hung on to the old name for so flippin' long that sometimes it’s hard to make the conversion. You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks, don’t you? (Not that I’m calling myself an old dog or anything…)

Now I suppose I could’ve made things easier on myself and kept my birth name, but taking my husband’s name seemed like an appropriate thing to do. Not only that, but I sort of figured people would have less difficulty spelling the new one. (Yeah, not so much.)

My sister didn’t change her name when she got married. She said it was for professional reasons, but I sort of suspect she just didn’t want to go through the hassle of changing everything from credit cards to library cards and every piece of identifying information in between. I don’t guess it’s a big deal, although it does make it more difficult when sending Christmas cards. At the very least it takes more lines to get everyone’s name on the envelope. Plus, I sometimes wonder if people suspect she’s more of a stepparent or something since she and her daughter have different last names.

Ah well. I do like the fact that women are not “required” to take their husbands’ last names anymore. But when I think about all the women I know who have been married in recent years, most of them have switched names. Interesting, huh?

I’ve even heard of husbands taking their wives’ last names, but I don’t know anyone personally who has done this. I figure if that ever happens it’s because he has a name that is impossibly long and impossibly hard to pronounce, let alone spell correctly!

Some people, I suppose, do the hyphenating thing so they have two last names, which is fine for the most part. I often wonder what happens to the next generation when a daughter with two last names marries. Does she have a triple-hyphenated last name, then? Ugh. It’s hard enough keeping track of one let alone three!

Oh, and I recently saw a hyphenated last name that I thought must surely be a joke. Like someone was practicing their alphabet and kept writing down random consonants and vowels and just didn’t know when to stop. There was, of course, a hyphen in between the lengthy string. Can you imagine how a kid from that union fares? He’d better be a spelling whiz. And we can only hope that he has an easy first name – like maybe “Bob,” for example.

Fortunately, my name situation is not really all that difficult and I imagine, in time, I’ll stop the hesitation when stating my name. And when someone calls me, hopefully I’ll realize it’s my name they’re calling and won’t sit there with a blank look on my face for too much longer. Especially if it’s someone, say, from Publisher’s Clearinghouse to tell me I won their Sweepstakes.

Besides, my social security card, driver’s license and passport have all been changed, so it’s a done deal and I’m not switching back. But I'm hoping I never have to enter the Witness Protection Program: “My name? It’s Jane…Do…Co…I mean…Sally Smith!”

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