The name is the game here


Stealth in advance, the hunter stalks his prey and mentally surveys potential avenues of attack. Decided on an ultimate course of action, he pounces on his victim, taking that which is most important.

That’s how I felt as I swiped this column idea straight from the lips of our office manager, Monica Fleming.

Monica gets the task every week of typing in the names of those fortunate — though somewhat masochistic — couples who recently applied for marriage licenses in Sussex County (Monica usually labels the file as “Marriage Licenses,” whereas our former office manager, Beth Long, named the file something less flattering).

She mentioned to me in passing that some of the women should keep their maiden names simply because the last names of some of the men on the list were, well, less enticing. Naturally, this got me thinking.

That thought alone should have you scared.

My mind automatically raced to the raunchier combination of names that could transpire if mixed properly. A giggle at one, a full-blown laugh at the next and a puzzled bewilderment over the anatomical possibilities of the third followed. Realizing that I could never run with so perverse a trail of thought for a column, I quickly switched my energies to something more clean, such as cute little combinations of mirth and good will.

Nope, still wondering if there is enough Pilates training in the world for a person to be flexible enough to pull off that third one. I mean, I’ve seen contortionists from India ...

But I digress.

Besides the obvious possibilities, such as Candy Kain or Susie Woosie, there are the historical implications one must considered before adopting a new name. For instance, one should consider the ramifications of becoming Mrs. Martha Stewart, Hillary Clinton, Lizzie Borden, Courtney Love or Susan Lyons. I mean, that’s a lot to think about.

Ladies, when making that decision to take on the surname of the man you love, there is much, much more to contemplate than whimsical coincidence or a match with a famous person. Also think long and hard about the rhyme thing. For instance, Ann McCann is a fine name, but think long and hard before choosing it for yourself. You’re not very far away from being considered annoying right off the bat.

Editor’s Note: The rhyming of first names is a tough one, as well. I once dated a Karen, and I had neighbors — who I liked, mind you — named Stan and Fran. Being introduced as Darin and Karen or Stan and Fran can make people want to poke lollipop sticks in your eyes before you can ever win them over. You might want to also consider combinations like Jan and Dean or Ricky and Lucy before becoming too attached to a person.

There are also issues of convenience to consider. It’s bad enough for a woman to have to change her social security card, driver’s license, credit cards and business cards. Does she really want to also incur the possibility of changing from, say, Jane Jones, to Jane Nasamarketziadelphinos?

Hyphening that name is not very practical, is it? You’d have to jump the rest of your name to the back of the card.

Some are just saddled with names. I grew up with two Michael Jacksons, served in the United States Marine Corps with a Mike Tyson and went to college with a Don Johnson (though he went by his middle name). These were not names of choice, and at least one of them got a little punchy every time I would do a moon walk past him in the hallways at school.

Editor’s Note: My version of the moon walk looked little like the one the “real” Michael Jackson performed. Think of a drunken egret stumbling backwards down a sliding board with a plate balanced on his head and you have a better understanding of my dancing skills.

I am not calling for an end to women assuming the last name of the man she is marrying. No, no, I’m a fan of it. Though the custom is a bit sexist and archaic in nature, there is also something in the tradition that harkens feelings of family pride and new beginnings — of a woman assuming the responsibilities and culture of a family’s heritage and doing her part to carry on the legacy.

I know, for instance, I’ve always been more sensitive to people making fun of my last name than my first. To me, they were also taking a shot at my father, my grandfather and all those glorious pig thieves in my family’s past. I was never handed down a skill like woodworking or painting by my family, but that name and a hypnotic affinity for chilled Irish whiskey will continue to be passed along my family tree throughout history, by me or one of my cousins.

It’s all part of the plan.

So, what’s in a name? Everything. It is how we say hello to the world, and how we honor those before us. It can identify our heritage, show pride or simply be funny sometimes.

For instance, if I named my son Tom McCann ...