what’s in a name

At a gathering of The Fella’s family — and let’s just call them The Beardface Family! — we had occasion to introduce a friend to The Fella’s mother. (For the sake of his privacy, here I’ll dub our friend Mike Smallbaker. That’s not quite right, but it’s the same construction: first name, and a last name composed of a common adjective and old-timey occupation.)

Later, The Fella’s Mother asked about his unusual surname, and The Fella told her that it was a hybrid: when they married, M. and his wife R. decided to combine their two last names into one.

The Fella’s Mother turned to me and, not for the first time, asked me, “So, Elsa, when you’re married, will you be a [Beardface]?”

Now, listen.

I am not changing my name, and The Fella’s Mother knows that, because she’s already asked me. We’ve had this conversation a coupla times already, and I’ve answered sweetly and earnestly. Twice.

So.

This time, I said, absolutely deadpan, “No, actually, we’re doing what M. and R. did.”

TFM, game as always, said, “Oh?”

“Yup. We’re both changing our names to Smallbaker.”

My future brother-in-law, sitting nearby, laughed until he tipped off the edge of his chair. The Fella’s Mother, um, did not.

note: Though I’m razzing her a little here, The Fella’s Mother is a lot of fun, and she — like the entire Beardface family — has gone out of her way to welcome me from the first day I met them, and to shower us with love and affection as we approach the wedding day. I’m stunned and grateful to have such loving in-laws, and even more grateful that they can take a joke.

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