When I was in college, I once got into a fight with a boyfriend because I said if we ever got married, I was keeping my maiden name. To him, apparently this statement meant I was some sort of scary nutjob closeted hippie feminist that ate pieces of the Constitution for breakfast.
But my reasoning was much more simple. My decision was merely motivated by the fact that I’m the last one in my large extended family that still has my biological grandfather’s surname. I just wanted to keep that name going for as long as I could.
Luckily, the man I did marry understood this desire and since he was the last in his family carrying his grandfather’s surname, we ended up coming to a nice compromise, where I would keep my family’s name going in long-forgotten articles and blogs and our future unholy spawn would take his name.
Boom. Done deal.
Except it wasn’t. Not really. When my stepdad bought me a plane ticket out of the goodness of his heart, he put Aprill Huddle, leading to a rather intimate patdown by a TSA agent when they discovered it didn’t jive with my license. When I was maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding, in the program I was listed as Aprill Huddle. The majority of our mail says “Mr. and Mrs. Huddle” and I’m often called Mrs. Huddle in public.
Which, to be honest, I don’t really mind. I’ve been called worse (including some painful years in high school and college where my nickname was “Chunky Bob”).
However, I was surprised a married couple having two different last names, no hyphen within sight, is not quite as common as I would have thought. So it should have come as no surprise to me when I saw that a recent survey found that 50 percent of Americans would support a law requiring a woman to take her husband’s last name.
But it still was.
Fifty percent? Really? I mean, I understand the tradition of taking your husband’s last name and I think it’s a lovely way to symbolize that you are now a family. But making a law requiring it?
Come on, this is America. A country where celebrities can name their children Audio Science (actress Shannyn Sossamon), Pilot Inspektor (actor Jason Lee) and Moroccan (Mariah Carey’s demon seed). Where celebrities themselves can decide to go by one word, like Cher or Madonna, or in the most extreme cases, simply change their name to an unpronounceable symbol, and then change it to The Artist, and then change it back again to the original one word name of Prince. Where a normal kid named Sean Combs can be Puff Daddy and then later P. Diddy and then later still Puff the Magic Diddly or whatever he’s going by now.
On the same note, this is the land of the free and the home of the brave reality TV stars who actually choose to go by ridiculous monikers such as Snooki, The Situation and J-Woww.
This is a nation where spelling is a fluid concept and Paige can be spelled Payj, Rachel can be Raychelle, Max can be Mhaxx, and Kimberly can be Kymberleigh. Where apostrophes know no bounds: De’Shawn’a, Se’Heira, Ce’Qwoia.
This is the melting pot of the world, where little kids with Polish surnames featuring four Z’s, three Y’s and 12 vowels can play alongside little Asian children with the hard-to-pronounce-for-white-people last name of Nguyen in peace and harmony. Where girls named Christi and Sammi and Mari can dot their i’s with stupid, little hearts on legal documents.
Where a fourth-grader from Ohio can decide one day to add an extra L to her name on a whim because there were three other girls with her same name and she was tired of being referred to as “April B.”. Not to mention, I could go right now and for a reasonable fee, legally change my name to Scrappy McDoo if I really wanted to.
Like Shakespeare said, what’s in a name?
Well, in America, it’s anything you want.
And in my opinion, we should keep it that way.