We all have names, even our pets have names. Growing up on a farm, the rule was never give a name to something that might be on the table later. So I named everything including my pet calf, Red Ribbon. Even at a young age I was ok with mediocrity. If I would have been an excellent kid, I would have named him Blue Ribbon. But back to the point, names are important. They follow us from birth and speak for our integrity on paper. I am an odd duck, always have been. I, unlike most Southern, Christian, Republican women who hold fast to a conservative ideology, did not change my name after marriage.
Now that it is approaching my fifth wedding anniversary I have been asked, don’t you think it is time to change that name and start having babies? My response to them is simple, I don’t want to be Polynesian and suicide is not an option in my life. Both are jokes but sometime even I wonder why I didn’t take the name. My engagement was rather rushed and it seemed liked I wasn’t ready to change my name. I remember thinking, for the first time in my life; I am not Bobby Oliver’s daughter or one of those Land grandchildren. I saw these as accomplishments of sort. Now, I would have to change my name to something else. I know selfish huh?
I never wanted to be selfish, but no one I knew could explain to me why I had to take Chris’s last name. Why does the guy keep his name but the girl change hers? It was more of a legal thing for me. Maybe I got screwed up by Y2K, but your name is who you are and all that you have in the world is linked to your name. I didn’t want to baffle our easily confusable government by changing my last name. I had travelled to many countries under the name Ruth Marie Oliver and I didn’t want to confuse the CIA and FBI if they were keeping tabs on me.
Maybe it is because I am a perfectionist? Early in my educational journey I noticed teachers who had started teaching under their maiden name and then changed their name after marriage. This is perplexing to a fifth grader. As a middle school teacher I marked every book, stapler, ruler, marker, pencil sharpener, and so on with my name… OLIVER. I don’t want to confuse anyone. I also didn’t want to rip off or mark through any of my labeled property. No, I didn’t label my underwear… property of Ruth Marie Oliver, Winona, Mississippi. But I did put my name in every dictionary I owned. Plus, what if I got confused at an old age when I looked at my high school diploma or pilot’s licenses. If I was Polynesian this might puzzle a crazy old red head?
I am sure many of you have asked, what does the hubby think? I remember sitting in a Publix parking lot discussing this road block in our relationship. I know he would love it if I were Polynesian. His response to my request was, “I would rather have you without my name, than not have you”, sweet huh? But there is always a mother-in-law lurking in the bushes. I won’t get into that saga on my public blog, but let us just say mother-in-laws make me more stubborn than normal. The Surgeon General should put warning labels on the sides of red heads; “snotty remarks may cause stubbornness which is hazardous to everyone’s health”. Enough said?
I heard Biblical quotes like, and the two shall become one. This is in reference to the flesh not the name. I responded with but Genesis states that the man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife. Why doesn’t that mean men should take the surname of the wife? I am not a Biblical scholar and I respect all who are, but in many Christian cultures men take the name of their wives. It is also illegal in many countries to go by any other name other than your birth name. I once tried to study which cultures and countries change names for women and which for men. Honestly, I couldn’t make sense of who did what. It is really a free-for-all around the world.
Most would consider me a feminist because I didn’t change my name. That is very far from the truth. How can a woman be called a feminist when she fervently believes the man/husband should be the head of the household? Or, believe that the wife should submit to her husband and include this verbiage in their wedding vows? I am not a militant feminist! Stubborn yes, militant no!
I really thought that I just need a little more time, but being an odd duck, loving my husband and him loving me just the way I am, I never changed my last name. I am still the same person I always have been, Ruth Marie Oliver. I am not a KEY and I never will be. I am so passionate about this fact that even when closing on our house I refused to sign my name any other way. I am not Polynesian! I am not Ruth Marie Key.
(If you still don’t get the Polynesian joke, say Ruth Marie Key out loud. Its ok, go ahead, no one is watching you. Say it… Get it now?)