Many moons ago, while executing our wedding planning schedule spreadsheet, it came time to get our wedding license. A pretty straight forward task if you live in Brooklyn. Head down to the municipal building, fill out a form, wait in line, pay a fee and Ta-Da! You can now legally get married in the state of New York. It was that easy. Even waiting in line wasn't all that terrible. There were several other couples ahead of us running the gamut from a young Hasidic couple, a caribbean couple, some old ball miss matches that make you scratch your head, and Ronnie and Sammy from the Jersey shore. A fair representation of Brooklyn if I do say so myself, Marty Markowitz would be proud.
What we didn't know, was that folded into this process was the ability to change your name. The back of the form simply stated that if any party wishes to change their name, they can do so by indicating below. It made no differentiation between bride or groom, first name or last name, it simple asked you to put down what you would like your new name to be. This was a moment of pure excitement for me, a flash of brilliance had erupted in my head. I could forever be known, legally, as Mr Fuzzyball Puffypants.
I immediately raised my newfound wishes with the future mrs, but she laughingly, and lovingly, rejected the idea. She had no desire to be Mrs. Fuzyball Puffypants. I was devastated to say the least. Any future enjoyment I would have received from the people I handed my passport to had vanished. Entering nightclubs would no longer be accompanied by second glances from bouncers, cashiers would no longer question my personal checks, and my children would no longer be beaten up at school. Daily. Instead, life goes on as WMD. Please don't tell Bush and Cheney, but I was here all along.
However, despite Claire's refusal to accept a life of mockery with me, this did raise a seemingly important question. Tradition stands in western cultures that brides adopt the surname of the groom. In this case Claire Barrett would become Claire Darby. There were only two problems with this: 1) We had never really talked about it and 2) We were leaving the country soon and would not have the time to update everything properly (bank accounts, passports, SS#, credit cards, beneficiary forms, IRAs, email, etc). We had a wedding to plan and a RTW trip to take and couldn't be bothered with all that paperwork. By "We" I mean Claire.
The couple in front of us were merely Ronnie and Sammie look a likes and came off rather well adjusted from their conversation we eavesdropped on.
There was no hope of an eruption into fisticuffs that would delay their processing, leaving us with only a few minutes to discuss the name change issue. We were next in line and a decision needed to be made.
This wasn't something that was on our spreadsheet or even something that we had talked about in any length of depth. I'm not a stickler for tradition and Claire infamously is not a stickler for paperwork (you can ask her old boss all about that). Simple enough. We both felt it was unnecessary at this time, and if we ever changed our minds we could take care of it in the future. Right now we just wanted to file the form and get on with the day. We both needed to go to work, and you know, make money.
I still would have preferred life as Mr. Fuzzyball Puffypants, but we both felt the name change was a non issue. We forgot all about it until the day of our wedding when we were asked about it. Some reactions were mixed, but others still were unexpected. Apparently I was now married to a modern woman. Perplexing to us because A) I've always felt Claire was modern (independent, stylish, charming, beautiful, etc) and 2) because we never saw this as an issue (from any perspective).
On a future occasion when talking to my dad, he asked me how "Mrs. Darby" was doing, and being my father's son I responded "Mom's great". I had to correct him that Claire was in fact not Mrs. Darby, so he has taken to calling her Mrs. Bill. Admittedly, the thought of her as a claymation character prone to catastrophic encounters makes me giggle on the inside. The name Mrs. Fuzzyball Puffypants however, makes me out right laugh maniacally. There are so many other important things to take care of first that it has gone from a non issue to a non priority. We might discuss it someday, but for now we need to find jobs, and you know, make money.
A note from Claire: seeing how this post largely has to do with me I thought I'd put my two cents in. It really never mattered to me what my last name was, I am seriously allergic to paperwork and that was the reason I didn't rush to do it all before we left. I never would have got my passport back in time for the trip anyways. I think women must have never had to worry about these things back in the day because they didn't have bank accounts of their own and retirement accounts and passports and all the things that their husbands were in charge of anyways. At this point, I don't think my status as "wife" changes at all according to what my last name is and I do like the sound of "modern woman" it has a nice ring to it, so I will keep the name I was born with, I think it suits me better anyway. Our future kids can have Darby though, that's a tradition I'll stick with. And I need someway to prove who the baby daddy is. Ha! Just kidding. Maybe ;)
Anyways, what are your thoughts on the matter? Married or not married I think every woman has an opinion on this...