What’s in a Name? How about 17 letters?
I grew up with a surname that was the butt of many jokes. In fact, it was so bad that it might as well have been Butt. I yearned for a “normal” name and resented the Jennifer Browns and Tammy Smiths of the world. My friends would fantasize about their wedding day, yet all I wanted was a handle that didn’t elicit giggles.
In a classic case of “careful what you wish for,” I married a Serbian man and went from a two-syllable last name to one with six syllables that was impossible to pronounce on the first dozen tries. At the time, I considered it a lateral move.
We moved to a new city shortly after we were married and I vowed to never reveal my former name. Co-workers were driven crazy with guesses (my favourite: “Is it Lori Swallows?”) but I was a vault, refusing to give up my past identity.
Finally, someone called my previous employer, pretending to be an old high school friend looking to get in touch with me, and the receptionist gave up my maiden name. The hilarity of my surname was apparently worth all of the trouble he went through to dig it up.
When the Serb and I had kids we chose simple first names and ditched middle names altogether. In my husband’s culture middle names aren’t usually done, so he didn’t care if our kids went without. I wanted to forego the extra name for more pragmatic reasons: a lifetime of filling out forms and running out of spaces for all of the letters. I already suspect they’ll have carpal tunnel by high school.
I’m thankful for my middle name because it’s also my pen name. ‘Lori Dyan’ is memorable but not generic, sounds interesting without being ridiculous, and is easy to pronounce.
If nothing else, it’s better than the alternatives, especially Lori Swallows.
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