Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Maiden Name

Dear Indigna,

I was already well-established professionally when I married, so I kept my maiden name to avoid confusion and possible loss of business. However, many people, most of whom I have never met before, seem to object to my having kept my name. Senior ladies of my mother’s acquaintance, religious persons, even my in-laws insist on calling me by husband’s name, or worse, berating me for failure to change mine. How should I respond?

Also, our children are nearing school age. How should their classmates address me?

Ms. X, Not Mrs. Y
Denver, CO

Dear Ms. X,

This is an easy one. Since your failure to change your name indicates just how little you care for your husband, I suggest you treat those rude enough to point that out with the contempt and/or condescension they deserve.

For example, elderly ladies of your mother’s acquaintance:
Your mom: This is my daughter, Mrs. Y.
Old biddy: Pleased to meet you Mrs. Y.
You: Mrs. Y is my mother-in-law, you old bat! I am Ms. X because I just might change my mind about my so-called “husband” and don’t want to have to go to the trouble of two name changes, so there! Mind your own business!

I would follow this up with a swift kick to the shins and a haughty and abrupt exit.

Here’s another example:

Priest: I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Y.
You: Jeeezus Ka-riiist! How many times do I have to tell you that I am no more “Mrs. Y” than you are Mother Teresa! In case you didn’t notice, forcing a woman to take her husband’s name makes her a kind of chattel or possession, which is just like slavery, which the last time I checked is illegal in this country, so stop thinking with whatever vestigial genitalia the “Church” may have allowed you to retain and understand that, hard as it may be (no pun intended) for your pea brain to understand, I am a human being, not a piece of property!

That exchange is sure to encourage plenty of spirited conversation at your wedding reception!

As for the in-laws, that’s always a tricky question, since you never have to see the old biddies or the priest again, but you are likely to run into the ol’ ball-and-chain’s family once in awhile over the course of your marriage, however long that lasts when you can’t even be bothered to change your name. I suggest the old “misunderstanding” trick.

Mother-in-law: This is my daughter-in-law, Mrs. Y.
Old biddy: Pleased to meet you Mrs. Y.
You do not respond.
MIL: Jane? I just introduced you to Mrs. Ipsbequizit.
You: You did? I thought you were introducing someone named “Mrs. Y,” and since I am Ms. X and not Mrs. Y, I assumed that “Mrs. Y” was one of your schizophrenic hallucinations.

Finally, the question of children. In order to teach your child’s classmates that people are not defined by their names, you should give them a different name each time they see you. This strategy is especially fun in the early childhood years, when they really aren’t quite sure if they know you or if you are in fact an evil twin! The first time you meet one of these munchkins, tell them you’re “Mrs. X.” Next time “Miss Y.” The third time, when they call you by either your name or the name of your children, you should correct them by saying, “I beg your pardon, but I am Mrs. Ipsbequizit. I am shocked that your parents don’t make you call people by their correct names!” The time after that, when they dutifully call you “Mrs. Ipsbequizit,” you should correct them quite forcefully: “Jonathan, I am ashamed of you. I’ve known you for two years and you still can’t remember my correct name!” He will no doubt try out one of your “other” names, at which point you should again correct him, quite coldly and angrily, with a fresh, entirely new name. “I am very disappointed, Jonathan, that you don’t recall that I am Miss Pussy Galore. Please make a note of it.” The fifth time you encounter “Jonathan,” he will probably try to avoid calling you by any name whatsoever, in which case you must force him to do so by asking him to introduce you to someone. “Uh, this is Miss Pussy Galore,” he will say, at which point you will slap him across the face with an expression of horror and say, “What a dirty little boy! And just six years old!”


At 12:49 PM, Blogger Brazillero said...

Are you...SERIOUS?!

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Brazillero said...

Are you....SERIOUS?!

At 7:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is a riot!


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