Last week, my lucky spouse got to take a trip to the local city clerk’s office — jackpot! — to obtain a certified copy of our marriage license because I could not, for the life of me, remember that I’d married him.
Kidding! Of course I remember. We actually needed it for a bet.
Kidding again! We needed it for the legitimate purpose of proving to the Netherlands that we have a legally recognized marital relationship.*
The point of telling you that is not to brag about how vital our marriage is to political interests in the Netherlands, but to tell you that when the helpful woman at the clerk’s office handed him the envelope with the certificates, she gave him a “change of name” form as well.
For the record, we have been married ALMOST THIRTEEN YEARS. One might presume that if I had any interest in changing my last name, I would have taken advantage of some of the preceding 12.5 years to obtain and file the appropriate paperwork. One could therefore conclude that my failure to do so indicates my lack of interest. I was not interested in changing my name at age 24. I am even less interested — if that’s even possible, because I gave zero point zero fucks to begin with — at age 37.
One might go so far as to suggest that even if we’d gotten married the day before yesterday, it is not the business of the city clerk’s administrative staff to tell me what to do with my own name.
(Oh, right: I should have explained that the change of name form was meant for me. If she’d given it to him and urged him to adapt my name, this would be a different post and I’d be inviting the staff of the clerk’s office to lead a consciousness-raising session.)**
(As an aside, when we first got married, we contemplated changing both our last names to an entirely new one made of a combination of our mothers’ maiden names, as a way of giving the patriarchy a big middle finger in a way only hepped-up twenty-four-years-olds can who are trying to buck the system while also exploiting their heterosexual privilege to obtain health insurance can do. Sadly, there was and is no way to combine the names “Finkelstein” and “Giannachi,” pronounced gee-ahn-NAA-kee, in a way that doesn’t sound like the name of a frightening Finnish circus clown. I love our moms, but I wouldn’t even name the dog Finkelnnachi.)
When my husband explained to her that the form wouldn’t be necessary, she urged him to take it anyway, because you “never know” and you “might be surprised.” When he continued to demur, she slipped the form into the envelope herself, suggesting, “you tell her that I made you take it.”
Dear Woman at the City Clerk’s Office,
Your message has been received! As requested, my husband explained in detail how you pushed him to bring me the form despite his entirely correct insistence that it was not needed.
On the name-changing, no thanks! But we both really appreciate how you put him in the position of having to hand me a piece of paper that he knew I wouldn’t want and would make him look like a jackass.
Woman who is keeping the name she was born with, and who is not about to figure out a new signature at this late stage of life because she really likes the one she has
*Oh, yeah: I’m moving to the Netherlands! Did I forget to tell you?
**Before you get your man-panties in a bunch: the post would be pretty much the same, because no one has to alter something as fundamental to their identity as their name unless they choose to.