Calling Names

All the best husbands make allusions to children’s movies first thing in the morning.

Yesterday morning I rolled out of sleep and my Paul looked over to see if I was awake. “Hello, Truly,” he said as I blinked sleepily at him.

I paused a minute. “What?” I asked. “Was I drooling last night?” This is not out of the realm of possibility, as there are members of my family of origin (including, um, me) who do tend to produce an overabundance of saliva when we sleep. But I didn’t feel like I had been drooling, and I was sort of wondering how my Paul would have noticed unless I was actively doing so right before I woke up and he was watching me. Which would be weird.

It was his turn to pause. “I said Truly,” he repeated. “As in Truly Scrumptious from . . .

“Ohhhh . . . ” I interrupted, suddenly delighted. “I thought you said Drooly. Or Julie. I wondering next if I should ask you why you were calling me the name of another woman.” Particularly as I was not aware of any named Julie in his past.

“Nope,” he said. “Truly.”

“It’s a really good thing,” I said, “that my parents didn’t actually name me Truly.”

He thought about this for a second and then started laughing. Really hard. “Truly Grosser!” he chortled. I was laughing too hard myself to say anything. Because, er, truly–that would have been my name, had my parents possessed the unique blend of cruelty and humour to induce them to give me the first name Truly.

As it was, I have perfectly countenance-able first and second names, and I made jokes myself about my maiden name Grosser up until probably March 3rd itself. Being an awkward person who sometimes likes to capitalise on my own awkwardness, I kind of embraced that name, and in all the months leading up to the wedding, and most of the months since then, I thought I was going to change my last name legally to my Paul’s, but continue to publish, in whatever form (self- or traditional, freelance articles or books) under the name I used when Trees in the Pavement was published: Jennifer Anne Grosser.

But, as TheBro observed recently, not knowing any of the above plans regarding my separate living and publishing identities, “Jennifer A. G. Xxxxx. What a great name for a writer.” He’s not wrong. My new name is decidedly more distinguished and authorly. Particularly with two middle initials–I couldn’t dispense with the Grosser entirely, because . . . well, it’s been part of my identity for my whole life, which, statistically, is probably more than half over.

And by the way. It’s too late for me, but I’ve just decided that I really think husbands and wives should each take their spouses’ name. Or bits of them. There is something in a name that is directly tied to one’s identity, and if the Christian idea of marriage being a joining of two people into one flesh (one life, as it were–almost one new entity) is correct/accurate/useful, even, then it doesn’t really make sense for just one member of the couple (traditionally the woman, but it applies either way) to change that really fairly significant bit of identity, without the other one making the same change. I don’t mean the pair swap names. I mean they somehow combine them. Like those hyphenated British surnames. Or maybe a hybrid.

Nevertheless, my Paul and I didn’t do that, and I was kind of thinking it would be nice to keep a little bit of myself private when there is so much I blab on the internet and, eventually, in books. Although I don’t suppose it’s so secret as all that after all anyway. And I don’t really imagine my name will go down in history as anything special, or anything at all, but now that I have a choice, I’m feeling a little less sure about going down in whatever little bit of history is mine, as Grosser, Truly or not.

6 thoughts on “Calling Names

  1. You make me smile, Jenn! I’m on the other side of the name fence, though. My parents have different last names, so I’ve never felt mine really connects me to my whole family. As such, I’m pretty indifferent about changing my name when I get married, except that it’ll be nice to be linked to my husband. Perhaps I’ll feel differently when I have to start answering to another name, but right now I don’t really care what I’m called.

  2. I have a very particular lastname. In dutch, it’s an old fashioned way of saying “Butcher”. And it so happens to be that I live in a home on Butcher Street. So I can’t really change my name, it would take all the fun out of it. But if I’d ever have to make the choice for my possible future children, I wouldn’t force them to live with my last name. It’s taken years for me to see the funny thing about it 😉

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