Notes from a Lunatic (with her own name, goddamnit.)


This is not Bridal Bird.

This is her good friend who has her OWN NAME, offering up a guest post at The Bird’s request. She wants me to tell you all about how she is breaking my heart with this nonsense talk that she’ll soon give up her fabulous three-syllable, alliterative last name for her husband’s. (You know, like when you buy a car? And the title is transferred?) And I have reluctantly agreed. Usually, I prefer to hide my personal craziness under the pillow. Plus, I fear mean comments from the many masochists who come here for tips on catching a Bird of great quality. But, what the hell, I am a revolutionary and I know I must be brave in the battle to liberate my sisters.

So here’s my story. Yes, I am married. I’ve been married for five years. And it’s great. (It really is.) But I did NOT change my name, I never even CONSIDERED changing my name, and my husband knows better than to dream, for even one second, that I might change my name in the future. And here’s why: It’s my name.

Sometimes, when I’m trying to sound less crazy (not so much right now…), I tell people, “Oh, but I was 30 when I got married. You know, that’s a long time to have a name.” (Like I couldn’t possibly learn to spell a new one.) Or, I explain how I had a semi-respectable career in journalism at the time of marriage and a bulky portfolio of published work—it would have been professional suicide to change my (locally) known byline to something else! (These are all reasons, by the way, that The Bird is free to borrow.) I usually add, “You know, I completely understand why somebody would want to change their name. For one thing, it’s much easier when you have kids. For another, you don’t have to argue about linen monograms.” And that is true. I do understand. It is easier. But it’s also pretty weak.

(For the record, my daughters have hyphenated names. Five syllables! I know they’re too long. But my husband refuses to drop his half. At the doctor’s office, they just use my last name—and when he goes there, they call him Mr. F. and he gets a little steamy. But at my eldest’s pre-school, they just use his last name! Who told them to do that??!)

I do have a good name, if I have to say so myself. I think it has syllabic rhythm. And ethnic identity. And I share it with a very cool Southern, Catholic writer. So, that’s part of why I kept it. I think it’s like a little hint, “I am THIS kind of person.” The kind of person who will get your joke about catechism class and drink too much Guinness. If I had taken my husband’s name, it would have been like pretending to be somebody else with a whole other personal history and a whole other set of in-jokes and favorite foods.

But the bigger part is PRINCIPLE, people. This whole “giving up” your name smacks to me of ownership. It’s like when white men in straw hats stepped up to the auction block and paid $10 for a kitchen girl. You know, they gave slaves their owners’ last names. Why not just wear a frigging sign? “For sale: One woman. I will keep your house tidy.” Or” “I belong to him.” Sigh. Why can’t we be more like the Spaniards? Those are civilized people. And respectful of their mothers. Like them, I might have considered hyphenating — if my husband did. He didn’t. So I wouldn’t. And that’s that.

When I read the Sunday NY Times, I used to keep track of who changed their name and who didn’t. (This was not a healthy habit and I have stopped.) But there were a goodly number of smart women who kept their names. To wit: The Times reported on four (straight) couples this past weekend. Three do not appear to be destroying the hopes of their daughters. They are, collectively, a lawyer and novelist, a Reuters reporter, and a very noble-minded gal who coordinates nonprofit arts education programs in the Bronx. One is changing her name. She coordinates product placement for Schweppes products in films. Sell-out!!

I admit (and this is not very nice) that I still think that women who change their names are… how can I put this? Um. Likely to sell Avon products.

All right. Let’s get down to business.

Top three reasons that the Bird should keep her name:
1) I have two older sisters. When they got married, one changed her name (but not professionally) and the other did not. The latter is still happily married. The other suffered a 15-year miserable marriage to a lying, alcoholic attorney who, while sleeping with his secretary, eventually succeeded in driving her to the loony bin for a not-short hospitalization. Now she’s divorced, in therapy, and a lesbian. Do you want that, Bird? Huh? Huh?

2) When solicitors call, they will say, “Mrs. M?” And you will know, right then, that this couldn’t possibly be a friend because all of your friends know damn well that you don’t call yourself THAT. And you can say, honestly, as I do, “No. This is not Mrs. M. There IS no Mrs. M.” And then hang up.

3) Laura Bush changed her name. Theresa Heinz did not.


23 Responses to “Notes from a Lunatic (with her own name, goddamnit.)”

  1. I-66 Says:

    [blank stare]

    Bird? What have you done?

  2. Bridal Bird Says:

    The feminists have taken over the blog and they’re fightin’ the patriarchy today, pal!

  3. I-66 Says:

    Fine. I’m taking my balls and going home.

  4. Jo Says:

    I’m keeping my name when I get married. I learned to love my unique name when I realized the guy I’m probably going to marry has a very boring last name.

  5. Hammer Says:

    Guard those nads, boys. The “Unhypenated Name-Retaining Sisters of the Apocalypse” have seized control of Bird’s place and they are pissed!

    I don’t see the problem here though. We make you change you name and in return, you make us change just about everything else. The way I see it, y’all still come out ahead.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some flying registered flatware to duck…

  6. Hammer Says:

    “your” name

    You deleted the correct one but left the typo one up. I hate you. You’re not allowed to sit next to me on the bus anymore.

  7. Bridal Bird Says:

    See, you try to help a brutha out…

  8. Johanna Says:

    As long as you continue to bake biscuits whilst wearing a waist-cinching waspie and stilettos (S told me – don’t be upset), I don’t give a flip if you keep your name or not.

  9. etcetera Says:

    i vote for researching back in your matrilineal as far as you possibly can and then adopting THAT name. and making the man adopt that name too. i know a couple who did this. i also like it when couples make up new names out of their original names. both options are fruity as hell. it’s totally up your alley.

  10. rcr Says:

    I don’t like that the world is coming to the view that tradition = misogynistic oppression. I suppose BB’s father (or step-father, or brother) shouldn’t walk her down the aisle either, because “giving her away” implies that she’s property. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Personally, I’d be upset if my wife didn’t take my name, at least legally. But that wouldn’t happen, because I wouldn’t marry that kind of woman.

  11. Abi Says:

    I’m not changing my name. And while yes, it is my father (and grandfather and greatgrandfather’s) name, it is also the name I’ve had as a professional, the name I’ve grown up with, and the name that my parents spent a long time making sure would work well with my first and middle names.

    Also, I’ve published considerably more than my fiance, so if anyone should take a last name, it should be him.

    Then again, his new name would be George Jones. And the world doesn’t need another George Jones.

  12. I-66 Says:

    I think each time Johanna comments, she uses a word for a piece of clothing that I need to Google to understand.

  13. Bridal Bird Says:

    Jo-“Spanofafly” is a beautiful last name and you should definitely keep it. 😉

    Hammer-You make a good point. In lieu of your special lady friend being present I’ll step in as the token female and tell you to stop doing that.

    J-That was Chapter 5 in my “Future Wife Handbook”: Biscuits always taste better when the baker looks beautiful.

    Etc-I once worked with a dude who he and his wife changed their last name to “Luxor” (as in Egypt) because they liked the city. S and I both enjoyed our afternoon in Luckenbach, Texas, last spring, so I guess that would be our best option if we went that route.

    RCR-My father’s exact words were “If I’m handing over 14 goats for you you can be damn sure I’m walking you down the aisle.”

    Abi-I dig the “who has more Lexis/Nexis hits” approach.

    I-66-It’s ok. Every time she makes me buy one of those pieces of clothing I have to Google to figure out how to wear the darn thing.

    Update: During lunch today I used the term “maiden name” in front of our guest poster. She looked like she was about to come at me like a spider monkey.

  14. Catherine Says:

    The *only* reason I may consider not taking my boy’s last name is that his sister and I have the same first and middle names. FREAKY. Yeah, it could get confusing.

  15. not buying it Says:

    cheap shot at laura bush. theresa heinz? really?

  16. Bridal Bird Says:

    Well Not Buying It, only one of them has killed a man. Just sayin’. Also, while I welcome people of all beliefs here, I can assure you that if you don’t want to see cheap shots taken at the Bush empire you’re on the wrong blog.

  17. Abi Says:

    Oh yeah, I was going to mention this but forgot:

    Teresa Heinz took the last name Heinz when she married the first time. When she then married Kerry, she stayed with the second name. I’m not sure she makes the best example.

    How about Frida Kahlo? She didn’t become Frida Rivera. Of course, she’s probably not the best example either.

  18. Bridal Bird Says:

    Abi, you’re factual and precise. I want you off this blog immediately. 😉

  19. janet Says:

    The problem with giving your kids a hyphenated name is …where does it end? Are your daughters supposed to name their own children with a triple-length hyphenated name? All you’re really doing is passing the issue on to them.

    That was my excuse anyway.

  20. And Now A Word From the Mrs. « Bridal Bird Says:

    […] Bridal Bird Something borrowed, something blue, something terribly amusing. « Notes from a Lunatic (with her own name, goddamnit.) […]

  21. class-factotum Says:

    Yeah, it must have been Hillary’s change from Rodham to Clinton that led Bill to fool around with a girl their daughter’s age. He was never an adulterer before that.

  22. Cars Says:

    Hi there…

    Gotta love yahoo, very neat website. Thanks alot….

  23. the name remains the same « Blog Archive « metrocake Says:

    […] went back and forth about it for most of the morning, until something that I read finally helped me make my decision: “I do have a good name, if I have to say so myself. I […]

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