I never questioned whether I would change my last name when I got married — OK, unless his name was something really embarrassing or complicated like Butt or Schclongermeiyer, … but it’s been more of a hassle than the time I baby-sat for three wiry kids and had to make sure they all went to bed on time. Now everyone pronounces it wrong.
Step 1: Send the South Carolina probate court $5 to get a marriage certificate. Wait a few days and get it in the mail. This is a breeze.
Step 2: Drive to the Social Security office in Charlotte to apply for a new Social Security card. Wait in line for 15 minutes, watching one smiley employee chat with a lady in front of me. Hope I get the same lady until a frowny employee tells me I can meet her at station 8. Listen to her tell me twice that it’s a crime to give false information, I guess giving me a second chance in case I lied and said it was truthful the first time. It could be worse.
Step 3: Meanwhile, contact the post office, bank, student loan organization and every bill collector, insurance agent and doctor’s office I can think of to give personal details away over the phone or by fax in order to prove that I am, indeed, married. By the end, I’m asking, “Do you want my Social Security number, too?” (OK, not quite, but almost.)
Step 4: Send everyone in my work address book a message saying my name and e-mail have changed and get new business cards. People still e-mail my old one.
Step 5: Get an e-mail back from the College Foundation saying they can change my address but I have to call in to change my name. Call the number and get an automated recording. I press 1, 5, 8, #, 2 and 4 just to get to the right department, then find out the office is closed. Call back the next day, accidentally go back to the main menu twice, yell that I just want to talk to a real person, hear the machine tell me it didn’t understand my request, stay on hold for 20 minutes and give up. Call again the day after, listen to the hold music so long I know the tune by heart and finally get a real person. It takes 40 seconds to change my name.
Step 6: Get my new Social Security number and head to the DMV for a new license. Fill out three of those signature strips because I can’t get in the habit of writing my new last name. (The same thing happens with receipts.) Carry around a temporary license and explain to the airport people during a trip up north that the picture on my old one goes with the name on the new one.
Step 7: Wince every time someone pronounces my name wrong and calmly correct them. “Jah-thin?” No. “Jot-hen?” No. For the record, it’s “Joe-thin.” (I guess I’m the only one who thinks it’s pronounced just how it’s spelled.) I almost miss Lane, but even then, people thought it was “Lame” or “Laney.” My co-workers still don’t like that they can’t associate me with Lois Lane.
Step 8: Still don’t regret changing my name because it’s one more way to link myself to the better half. At least I didn’t have to worry about a hyphen. “Lame-Jahthin?” No.