Thursday, August 29, 2013

a confession, part I, or, what's in a name?

alright, listen, i have a confession to make. my last name is not, in fact, "Cheese." i know, i know. this is probably really hard for you to hear. i'll let you have a minute to process.



so yeah. cheese is my husband's name. not mine. i've been operating under the monniker Mackenzie ("Mack") N. Cheese because it just seemed easier and less confusing, and honestly, i am too dead dog tired to come up with a witty maiden pseudo surname. but i'm taking submissions. hit me.

anyway. there ya go. my secret's out. i did not change my last name when i got married. why? i could spout a bunch of fem theory 101 at you, and say it was because i believe in equality (i do), that i don't want to perpetuate patriarchal, heteronormative, hegemonic masculinity (i don't), that i feel that my husband and i contribute equally to the partnership and therefore it makes no sense that he should get naming/branding rights (and ps, if marital contribution were the measurement, i would be the one entitled to naming rights, hands down. and also branding. seriously people. we have colors. and a font.)

but honestly, i didn't/don't even feel like i need(ed) a reason. it wasn't a decision i made. it was just a given. i never considered even for a second changing my name. okay shakespeare, yeah, yeah, "what's in a name?" blah blah. but it's my name. in my mind, it would have made as much (or as little) sense to change my first name upon marriage as it would to change my last. when i got married, i'd had this name for 28 years. i'd inherited it from my father, from his family, a family i love, a history i cherish. just as my parents told me the story of how they'd chosen my "given name," i remember my grandfather talking about our "family name," explaining to me the ways that we were, maybe-possibly, distantly related to marginally famous historical figures. sure, my mom's maiden name and my stepdad's surname were equally suffused with cool connections and history, but, the world being what it was in 1980, those names weren't mine. my mother had the same surname, and kept it even after she was divorced, even giving a version of it to my little brother, her son with my stepdad. while my little bro laments the 13 letters in his last name, i love that he and i still have that layer of connection. this name of mine was in the playbills for cheesy drama productions in junior high and high school. this name was silk-screened on the back of countless sports jerseys, stitched into my letterman jacket, etched into trophies, plaques, and awards. this name is caligraphied all pretty-like on my college diploma, as well as my fancy law degree. there is a group of people (albeit a very small one) who have commended my services as an attorney, saying i saved them, i saved their family, that i am doing "God's work." they know me by this name. my name. when people ask why i didn't change my name, i think, why would i?

i do have a couple of friends whose awesome radical progressive hippie parents melded their two last names to create a new one... Black + Smith = Blacksmith. Hill + Scott = Hillscott. i absolutely love that idea and everything that it represents about marriage and partnership in the world today, but it's not always practical, and again, it was really such a non-issue for us. i didn't think twice about keeping my name. i assumed people would call me mrs. cheese from time to time (my father in law still does :)) and i wouldn't bother correcting them, except maybe to say, "please, call me Mackenzie, or just plain Mack." ;) but like i said, i've never even considered changing my last name. it's just never been a thing. until today.

to be continued...

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