My blogger friend The Surly Spinster wrote a thought-provoking post on spinster names versus married names, and that was part of the inspiration for this post.
During the course of my day, I use several different names. When I’m substitute teaching, I’m Ms. [MyLastName]. When I tutor and while I was babysitting this summer, I’m Ms. [MyFirstName]. To the seniors I care for, I’m [FirstName]. One client is fond of nicknaming her aides and has christened me “The Schoolteacher” because of my day job.
My last name, though ethnic and multisyllabic, is fairly simple to pronounce. Nonetheless, I frequently hear my last name being badly butchered. In those circumstances, I explain that I will answer to Ms. [MyLastInitial]. One student, a freshman in high school and therefore old enough to know better, mispronounced my name in a particularly egregious way and asked if it was OK to call me that. I replied, “No, because it’s not my name.” For him and the rest of the class, I became Ms. [MyLastInitial].
I’ve had this name for 30-something years and have become rather fond of it, and I am not sure I want to change it if I ever get married. If I change it, I start anew as Mrs. [NewLastName] and possibly end up subjected to more butcherings. If I hyphenate, I could create a real mouthful for students to pronounce. There’s also the issue of my first name. I’m all in favor of diversity and marrying the person you love regardless of ethnicity, but I’m also a great lover of words. My first name sounds good with my last name. It might not with a new last name.
One man – I’ll call him Love of My Life So Far – made me consider changing my name. His name was also multisyllabic and hyphenated to boot. My first name would have sounded great with his last name. Alas, it was not to be for us, but that’s another story for another time.
For now, I simply write my name on the board with the explanation that it sounds like it looks (it does) and the corollary that Ms. [MyLastInitial] is acceptable.
It’s better than “Hey, you.” (One home care client actually called me that, but in her defense, she was suffering from dementia and not happy about having caregivers outside the family.)