Thursday, June 16, 2005

What's in a Name?

The Hobbit is one-quarter Indian. No one would ever guess this about her by looking -- she is as fair-skinned as they come, with blue eyes and a crazy mop of deep red, almost auburn hair. Nonetheless, her paternal grandfather immigrated to the US from Calcutta as a graduate student, married an American woman, and DH was the result. (This Grandpa is coming to visit us tomorrow, which is what made me think of all this.)Anyway, I am enough of a traditionalist that I changed my last name to his when we got married. It's quite long, by American standards, and every time we meet someone new, we get a lot of surprised looks. Some of the typical comments:"Wow! How on earth did you ever learn to spell that as a child!?" (DH, by this standard, is a sort of super genius -- he could and still does spell it with amazing ease!)"Oh, Indian, really? What tribe?" (DH, being braver than I am, has responded "the Bengali tribe" to this question. Unfortunately, people who ask this question don't know any more about Native Americans than they do about India, so the sarcasm is lost on them. It's not that we expect people to know what nationality it is -- I mean, 4 years ago I couldn't have told you. But trust me, it is not a name that sounds remotely like any Native American name I've ever heard.)"Gosh, what was your maiden name? ... Really? Why on earth did you take his!?" (Um, because I thought it would be fun to inflict pain on my coworkers by making them learn to spell it? Is that a good reason?)And on one wonderful, shining day, when a telemarketer called: "Is there a Mr. {several stumbling attempts to pronounce monstrosity of a name} -- oh, I hate this effing job!" {phone slammed decisively down}And that, my friends, is the real reason why we keep it (aside from pride in hubby's heritage, blah blah blah). We put people to a secret test -- if they're willing to learn to spell and pronounce the name, we know they must really care.

1 comment: said...

OMG! How true! I went from a simple maiden name to a Polish "can I buy a vowel" last name. Funny thing is, my sister-in-law (who no longer has it) always acted like it was such a big curse, but it really is not that big of a deal. Plus you get that fringe benefit with the telemarketers!