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Pique N Your Interest

Is it just a name?

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So I finally did it. After eight months of wedded bliss I’ve bitten the bullet and changed my last name, on my licence at least.

It’s the beginning of the end of Alison Taylor — the name.

Despite those eight months of procrastination as I talked about taking my husband’s name, I don’t think I had quite prepared myself for the change.

So I was completely taken off guard when the girl behind the driver’s licence counter asked me to sign my new name. My signature, something that is so fundamentally mine, as unique to me as my DNA, was about to change forever.

I took up the plastic pen and it hovered uneasily over the electronic pad.

This was it. I was making it official and I hadn’t even practiced the signature once.

A split second later, the quick fairly illegible scrawl that has been my signature for as long as I’ve been signing stuff, morphed into an awkward printed child-like autograph.

I felt like an idiot and I asked if I could do it again. Surely most people on the verge of doing something as major as changing their name have practised it beforehand. I didn’t even think about that. I didn’t really think it would be such a big deal.

The second time turned out much the same as the first. And so I resigned myself to my new signature. It just doesn’t have the same flourish as my old one.

And it was as easy as that. After 32 years as Alison Taylor I had wiped out my name in an instant. Now I was someone else altogether — a new name and a ridiculous signature to go along with it.

I stared down at those letters lined in a row and it just looked… totally weird.

It’s one thing to see your Christmas cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. ____, quite another to actually sign something other than your name.

I’m amazed the debate it’s caused among my close girlfriends around feminism, tradition, and personal choice. And that’s not even taking into account the passionate and oft-emotional topic of hyphens.

Of my six close girlfriends from high school, two have taken their husband’s names, two have kept their own, one has yet to find her mate and I’m somewhere in between. I’ve got my old name for my Pique byline and my husband’s name for everything else. Or I will have just as soon as I get around to changing all my other ID and let’s face it, that will probably take me another eight months. On some level am I trying to tell myself that I’m not really ready to give up Alison Taylor altogether? I didn’t really think it would be this weird.

One website I stumbled upon lists the pros and cons of the big name change.

Among the pros was that monogramming, personalized doormats and dinner reservations become easier. Hmmm, I had never really considered the whole personalized doormat argument.

Among the cons was the changing your name may imply that you are more old-fashioned and traditional than you actually are. Old-fashioned at 32 — another good point.

This weekend, as I listened to another girlfriend who is seven months pregnant debate the merit and pitfalls of names for her first-born, I was struck again by the importance of our names.

Our name is with us from day one. It defines who we are.

How do you suddenly change that?

My husband never pressured me to change my name. In fact, I think he thought I wasn’t going to bother changing it, as much to avoid the hassle of re-arranging all my documents as anything else. It was purely my decision. And when people ask why I don’t really have a particularly good answer.

Because of tradition? Because I want our family to all have the same last name? Because of some absurd sense of showing my marriage commitment? Because I want that doormat?

Hard to believe that I don’t have a good answer for doing something as fundamentally huge as changing my name.

Maybe deep down, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I am just an old-fashioned traditionalist at heart.

Now if only my signature could look a little more sophisticated and mature I might get into this whole new name thing!

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