Thursday, January 5, 2012
What's In A Name?
This holiday season that's just passed us by marked Andy's and my fourth Christmas together and our third living together. Ever since that fateful day when I moved in, how the joint mail we receive is addressed has been a source of amusement. More often than not, our holiday cards come addressed to me - my full name - with Andy's first name tacked on after that. Occasionally it goes the other way though, with my name tacked on in an "afterthought" sort of way. Rare is the sender who lists both our full names (all spelled correctly) and uses our correct address.
It's a common misconception, but Andy and I are not married. Or engaged. The vast majority of mail we receive recognizes and reflects this fact in its own awkward way.
So it was a little surprising this holiday season to receive a card addressed to what my married name would be if I weren't planning to hang onto my maiden name anyway. No mention of Andy was made anywhere on the card - just my first name and Andy's last name . . . combined. Andy and I exchanged bemused looks as we examined the envelope.
The percentage of women taking their husband's last names is higher than ever. (The big exception to this rule are women who are firmly established in their careers before marriage.) I have no issues with taking your husband's last name; especially in this land of _____sons if taking your husband's last name lands you with a more unique and interesting name.
But I have no desire to change my name. It's unique, it sounds nice, and it earns me the distinction of being the only person on Facebook with such a name. Sure it gets mispronounced all the time (sometimes I feel like that Ting Tings song - "That's Not My Name"- was written about me), but as a freelance writer, my name is my brand and contains an idea of who I might be.
I looked at my name printed on the envelope with Andy's last name and I felt like I was looking at a ghost of myself. Just let me grabbed my pearls, heels, and the vacuum and call me Mrs. Andy. Who needs feminism when you've got a man?
One thing that's always irritated me is when a married women's name is reduced to just a "Mrs." in front of her hsuband's full name. I mean, what are we? Chopped liver? Silent partners? Yet, I've been going through the guest books from work lately and happened upon a woman who wrote out her full name then put in parentheses "Mrs. John." I know for a fact her husband has been deceased for years.
What's in a name? Ideally the person we are most proud of being.