A lot. Besides the obvious purpose of helping us tell each other apart instead of just calling each other “hey you”, your name says stuff about you. In most cases, it kinda helps give people a hint of what’s in your pants… Hey – it’s true! But it’s always funny when even that clue is misinterpreted (I once received a fax addressed to Mr. Stykvi and it makes me smile every time I think about it.). It also tells people a bit about your background too – my name is distinctly French, and I like it like that! But it’s not just the first name – I’m pretty attached to my last name too. So when my marriage ended, I was quick to assume my maiden name again, and when I did, my soul just let out this little sigh of relief. It’s not that my married name was horrible, that I hated having it or that I wanted to spite my ex – it just felt like “me” again, and that feeling was good.
That’s when the questions started. I mean, I had no hesitation explaining to friends and even my co-workers about why I suddenly had a new name, but it was a little trickier when I started coming up in other situations with work-related acquaintances. Not wanting to start t.m.i. (too much information!) convos with people I barely knew, I would usually just tell them that “I reverted back to my maiden name” when they asked me what was up with the switch. I figured that people would get the hint, carry on and we’d all just be cool with it. But that’s not how it went – not then and still not now. In fact, I’ve had two people ask in the past week, and I haven’t really figured out how to deal with it yet, and strangely, I’m not really even sure how I feel about people’s reactions.
Now – if you put yourself into the shoes of the average person, when they look at me, they see a happy young woman and when they notice the name, they figure I just got married. So out of excitement for me and I guess just plain goodness of enjoying being happy for someone, they ask “hey, I noticed you have a new name, didja get married?”. And that’s when I start to feel bad. They’re all excited for me, and here I am, nanoseconds away from dropping the bomb that will not only squash the happy little vision they have of me in a pretty white dress, but also probably embarass the crap out of them. But I don’t mean to, I swear! But I don’t know how to avoid it. And then, the worse part of all comes: the pity. It’s not like I want a high-five or anything – I’m not a bitter anti-marriage 30-year-old-soon-to-be-divorcée. But man, the pity is harsh. But if the roles were reversed, how would I react? I might do the same thing. Ms. Manners has taught us not to ask random round-bellied women if they are pregnant to avoid awkward situations, but this, I dunno…
So – I propose this: if you *must* ask someone what the deal is with their name (I’m not judging, I would probably do it too…) be ready for what you might get. If they did just get married, be prepared to listen to their wedding stories. If they are now followers of Kaballah, you might just get a story about how Madonna/Esther inspired their conversion. And, if they’re like me, you might just get a smile and hear about how they’ve gone back to an identity they feel is truly their own. I would forgive you if you suddenly felt embarrassed and apologized for asking, but please, please, please, if I make a joke for the sake of both our asses, just crack me a smile, wouldja?This post may contain affiliate links.
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