It happened somewhere between government document seven thousand, and form five thousand sixty-one that I suddenly threw my hands up in the air and demanded of my fiance, "This sucks! It's tediously, unbelievably boring! What the heck! Why are you changing your name anyway?" Jane, the calm one, the collected one, looked up from her itemized piles with a cool eye. "What do you mean?" she asked. "Isn't that what you want?"
Wasn't it? Was it just my innate natural hatred for paperwork that had started this train of thought, or was there something deeper, something more important tugging at my mind? I'll never know, but as the night wore on my distress grew, and finally my fiance and I put aside the paperwork, grabbed a bottle of sauvignon blanc, and settled on the couch to seriously contemplate that age-old question the bard himself put best, "What's in a (sur)name?"
Additionally, what's in a hyphen? I couldn't sleep that night. My mind was whirring. Was Jane taking my name simply tradition, or did it symbolize the relinquishing of her identity? Was her identity truly synonymous with her surname, which had served her for many faithful years before I came along to snuff its life out? And does a hyphen, one minor little dash between words, really usher in a marriage of compromise and enlightenment unattainable to non-hyphenators? A legacy of respect to pass onto your children? But not necessarily grandchildren. The whole thing was just too confusing.
"Well," said Jane, again looking at the practical side of things, this time over breakfast. "We've already registered for several monogrammed items featuring our new initials."
"But they're not our initials," I protested, feeling suddenly sure about what I was going to say. "They're my initials. You have a perfectly good pair of initials already; you don't need mine too."
"Are you serious about this?" Jane asked. "I mean, I honestly just hadn't given it that much thought."
"Thought?" I bellowed, barely knowing where it was coming from. "What's there to think about? You already have a name, a name that's suited you just fine for the past twenty odd years of your personal and professional career. You are Jane Graham, high school skate star, Phi Kappa Si member, Internet consulting extraordinaire! How could I take all that away from you? Think about it! If someone googled you post- name change, half your life accomplishments wouldn't even show up!"
Jane remained mute, looking at me in shock. "Well," she said, "I guess it would be kind of a pain to change all my business cards." "Change your business cards!" At the thought of another paperwork-related chore, my mind was made up. "Jane," I said firmly, "You are keeping your last name, and that's final."
"Wow Bob" Jane said wryly "for all this new found feminism, you sure are putting your patriarchal foot down."
Okay, so maybe I had a ways to go in my 'New Man' theology. But despite my faulty feminism, my fiance agreed to walk down the aisle with current surname in tact.
She retained her identity, I embraced my new enlightened mentality, and we had a romantic evening, paper shredding form after form of name change paraphernalia.
But, just a word of advice to couples out there who might be opting for conventional nuptial rituals; there is an easier way to deal with name change chaos than simply having a nuclear meltdown.
There's a handy kit called the Ultimate Name Change Packet, which includes all the information, government documents, and forms you need to change names on driver's licenses, Social Security cards, IRS, passports... See what I mean?
Who knows whether the New Man in me would ever have emerged if I had stumbled on this nifty name change packet earlier, but for better or worse, the new me marches on, one meltdown closer to marital bliss.