28 September 2012

Say My Name, Say My Name

Hello. My name is Megan Coakley. Megan Aileen Coakley, to be exact. This is the name my parents gave me when I was born, and it is the name I use to this day. It is on all my legal documents. It is who I am.

The Captain has a different last name. When we married, I did not change my name to his, because I am Megan Coakley. However, society does not make it easy for one to maintain their "maiden" name. When my children were born, I had to register under both my name and the Captain's, so the hospital would allow me to bring home the human beings I had grown in my uterus. Frankly, I fed and housed them for nine months, so if possession is nine-tenths of the law shouldn't the Captain have had to change his name to claim them?

When the children started school I began using the Captain's name on school forms and to make it easier for their friends. If Three's last name is Captainsboy, it's hard to ask a child to remember to call me Ms. Coakley. So, pretty much everyone in town knows me as Mrs. Captain. I don't mind. I feel like an actress playing a role. And, when my book is published, it will put some distance between the boys and my smut. All good.

I draw the line when it comes to legal documents. I am not now, nor have I ever been, Mrs. Captain. Our bank checks list both our names and if the Captain and I own something jointly, other than the children, I like my half to belong to Megan A. Coakley. That is why, when we refinanced our home a few years ago, I lost my shit when they put Megan A. Mrs. Captain on  all the documents. When I pointed out that Mrs. Captain wasn't technically my name they made me sign every freaking piece of paper with both names. If you have ever purchased a mortgage you know how many times one has to initial and sign by the damn X's. And I don't even have a good "Mrs. Captain" signature. It doesn't flow easily from my hand like "Megan A. Coakley." I was pissed beyond reason when I left that office.

The Captain was sympathetic to a degree, then he told me I should let it go because in the end it was about saving our money, right? When I narrowed my eyes to incinerate him with my gaze he blamed his cousin, who sold us the mortgage and prepped all the paperwork. Fine. After all, the cousin had probably never heard of a woman who kept her name, it being a fairly new concept in the fucking 21st century.

It is now time to refinance again. The rates are low, our credit score is outstanding, and we bleed money on a regular basis (damn you kids, and your need for food, clothing, and healthcare!). Once again, the cousin is preparing the paperwork so when the Captain texted me to tell me he had electronically signed the first wave of papers, I had only one question:

"Is my name correct???"

"Shit."

"Are you kidding?" (I thought he might be pulling my leg, because surely he couldn't forget how angry I was three years ago.)

"Nope. All I did was click, click, click and didn't even look until you just said something."

To which my delicate response was:

"Motherfucker."

Forty-nine minutes later he wrote to tell me the cousin had corrected all the documents. It probably took forty-five of those minutes to explain that yes, even after twenty-two years of marriage and five children I have yet to completely abandon my identity.

I'm Megan Coakley, dammit. Remember my name.

34 comments:

  1. It's never made sense to me to abandon my own name (except when I decided to change the first and middle, but that was a different kind of thing). Always I was going to keep my last name, if I had married. It amazes me how it still throws so many people for a loop when a woman keeps her name, even in "the fucking 21st century." But then, viagra is covered by health insurance and birth control isn't always, so I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Maybe by the 22nd century they'll get it.

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    1. Yes, it would appear it is still a man's world. I took one of the kids to a doctor recently and for some reason I had to produce my driver's license "to see that the names match." I told them they wouldn't, because said child has his father's last name, which is different than mine. The young receptionist looked confused. It alarmed me.

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  2. Anonymous28.9.12

    Too funny.. My wife had to sign all our Mortgage documents with her maiden name with an aka before the name cause they screwed up the documents. And she was married once before so where the Mortgage company even got the maiden name from was beyond us... Needless to say, she was pissed off as hell for having to sign double signatures for all the form.
    Good stuff, Megan A. Coakley...

    Ron

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    1. Oh, I forgot about the freaking a.k.a.! I felt like a criminal using an assumed name! In my mind, I'm not ALSO KNOWN AS, because I'm just me. Argh.

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  3. Thank you for being Megan A. Coakley and I will remember your name forever. I did take DH's name (I'm more of a traditionalist) but I LOVE having my maiden name on everything. AAMOF when I finally get one of those pieces of paper that says I've put gazillion hours reading books and writing stuff I will have ALL my names. Katrina Marie Bolton Duvalois. (I would hyphenate but hyphens annoy me, I'd rather have four names).

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    1. All four are beautiful names-so lyrical they deserve to stand alone!

      I am in no way passing judgment on changing one's name. I think feminism is about allowing all choices. I look forward to seeing all of your names on paper!

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  4. I like it.
    I took the dh's name because my last name was the same as Jackass Abusive Father's name and I never had much attachment to JAF and was sick of people in our county saying "Oh, are you JAF's daughter? Which of his wives were you from?" So it worked for me to change it to Mrs. DH but I still have MY name on my checking account because It makes me feel sneaky. heehehehe

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    1. I'm happy you were able to distance yourself from JAF. None of us chose our last names when we were born, so you should be able to claim the one that suits you. My older children are just learning how large our family is, as new friends in high school ask, "Oh, are you related to the Rockaway Captains?" Three just met a cousin he didn't know he had at a local football game! As you know, it's hard to escape the assumptions based on a last name.

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  5. I took DH's name, but use my maiden name for writing. For me, the maiden name (which is a stupid term, since it's a patronymic) holds just as much importance in my heritage as my mother's maiden name, so I have no special attachment to it. Mostly, I like having the same name as my kids. We could have gone with Moran for all of this, but I didn't know if other kids would be mean to them and I know first hand how unpleasant it is for Moran to morph to Moron. So, DH's name it is.

    Also, I'd be pissed if any mortgage person, related or not, got my name wrong on legal documents. I'd have made them change it. But then, I can be kind of a jerk sometimes. :D

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    1. I'm quite certain you are always pleasant and agreeable!

      I'm proud of my boys, so I don't mind that everyone thinks I have the same last name. But you're right-I like it to be neat and tidy when it comes to binding agreements! They kind of had me over a barrel at the time, because everything is so time sensitive and getting the Captain and me in the same room at any time is an accomplishment, so I signed.

      But not this time.

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  6. Life is funny. This post is funny.
    I took the ex's name. Then we divorced but the kids had his name. I kept it until I started writing, even though it's a pain in the butt to spell. Now I use my maiden name even though my legal name is still his. Most people in my life know me by the maiden name. : ) So...I'm back!

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    1. Welcome back!

      I think the desire to be affiliated with your children is a powerful reason to keep your married name, but I like having my name for writing. Children are a joint venture--writing is my alone!

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  7. I tried to comment 3 times last night using my phone and was stymied each time. Bleh! I'm in the kept my name camp. It concerned my mother - "you know my friend, so&so? She didn't change her name when she got married and she thinks it meant that she really didn't want to be married to him and got a divorce." My father-in-law writes stuff to me as Karen Husbandname. I think it offends him that I didn't take his son's name. Then there were the people who asked, "don't you think it will confuse your children?" Um, no, I'm pretty sure they'll know who their mother is.

    It's really about what you want and what you're comfortable with. There are good reasons to change for some and good reasons to keep for others. BUT, I would be pretty damn demanding about having my correct legal name on all legal documents. I have a brother who is a lawyer and I've heard stories about the problems THAT can cause.

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    1. I have an aunt who sends me cards addressed to Megan Mrs. Captain, and she spells the last name wrong. I'm pretty sure she knows how to spell Coakley, so I might suggest she go with that.

      I'm all about choices, and I also know I can't change the mindset of some people. It just annoys me it's still an issue.

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  8. And I love MEC! Kept my name too- and I had always planned to take the name of a husband, so I thought! Have never really cared for my last name. But when I finally got married at 52 and had a 30+ year career behind me, it just seemed to make sense to keep the last name for simplicity and familiarity reasons.

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    1. I agree. I like your last name-it's different! I bet you run into mispronunciation issues, which my children do, as well. Poor Three, they've misspelled his first name and mispronounced his last all through elementary school!

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  9. This cracked me up. Blake is actually my married name (from my brief marriage in 1984-1987). I kept it in part because I hated my maiden name (Levine) and in part because I was in a new relationship that I was sure was leading to marriage, and I was just going to change it all over again. (Oh, ha.)

    Now I've been Deborah Blake for almost my entire adult life, and that feels like who I am. I'm not sure I'd even change it if I got married again. (Oh, ha.)

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    1. I like your name--it's simple and powerful. It suits you as a person and author. Maybe that's why it feels right!

      You may say "Oh, ha" now, but you never know. But I think you would find someone that wouldn't care if you changed it or not, because he would love who you just the way you are.

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  10. Ah names. It's funny how we keep them or run far away from them, and the attitudes imposed on us for our choices. Hayes is actually my mother's maiden name, as there was no way she was going to force me to keep my birth father's surname (Sleeper) nor was I interested in claiming it. That said, he was the product of an affair my grandma had while she was married, so in terms of bloodline his surname should have been Tracy as should mine. After I got divorced I had to argue with ignorant asshats to change my legal name back to Hayes from Khalil, and when I remarried I decided to keep Hayes for a while since it was such a pain to get back. Now I want to go change it to Blackmoore but I'm superstitious that doing so will jinx our relationship. I have no clue about that one. Bottom line, go with what feels good. I might need to buy a 12-sided die to decide.

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    1. I understand the desire to keep the hard-won name, but I don't believe in the jinx. I think it's romantic you want to change it, in much the same way I think it's romantic that the Captain didn't ask me to change mine! It's all good.

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  11. And here we have solid evidence once again of why I think you are the greatest! Megan Coakley - the greatest!

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    1. Perhaps I could adopt that as my rapper name. Like Sean "Puffy/P.Diddy/Diddy" Combs. Megan "The Greatest" Coakley. I'm saving it for my next career!

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  12. I have friends who have to deal with this, so I can sympathize, but I'm with Diva-- I would much rather have my husband's name than my dad's name. I haven't missed my maiden name one single time in 28 years of marriage.

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    1. There have been a few times when I've been happy to have my father's name, and a few times when I wasn't sure which way it would go. He was a State Trooper, so it came in handy once or twice when I got pulled over by the police. But at the end of his career he worked in Internal Affairs, so when an older policeman would ask if I was related to him, I worried it might be bad to say yes!

      It doesn't upset me if you share your husband's name. I think the most important aspect is that we both CHOSE the names we wanted to keep.

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  13. I just added Dan's last name to mine, with no punctuation. Since my fathers's family name is super distinctive I wanted to stay connected to them, and that heritage. Also, putting both names together actually sounded pretty cool, it flows nicely. Only problem, I never know whether I've been filed under Hs or Os when I go into an office. We always have to search around to find me. *I* know where I am!

    Also, we are all so glad that you are who you are, Megan Aileen Coakley .

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    1. The insurance company persisted for years in sending me an identification card with the Captain's last name on it. Then they arbitrarily hypenated it, I suppose to make sure they paid the claims because I'm on the Captain's insurance plan. I bitched about it for years, and finally this year I got a card with my own name!! Now I can stop trying to remember how I'm filed at the doctor's office!

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  14. Good on you for sticking to your guns!
    I haven't been in a position yet to take someone else's name but I think i'd like to keep my own, even if it was hyphenated.

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    1. I knew a couple once who each took the other's last name. He was Skouros-Sweeney and she was Sweeney-Skouros. I thought that was very interesting! I don't know how many men would go for that, though.

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  15. Names are funny. I kept my last name when I married but now have abandoned by childhood nickname in favor of the name on my birth certificate. I really don't mind family and old friends calling me Kathy, but I have hard time calling myself that name. In my mind and heart I am Kathryn.

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    1. That's my feeling, too. We are what we call ourselves. Kathryn is a lovely name, but it would be hard for me to change what I call you!

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  16. BRAVO my dear. My generation wasn't given a choice but I have MY name on my license plate now. It'a ridiculous how long it takes to effect change but you have always been your own person and of that I am extremely proud.

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    1. Thanks, Tuffy. (Nicknames stick, too!)

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  17. In Quebec you're not allowed to take your husband's name. And you can't get around it by legally changing your name to his. So I've always had mine. And for the most parts haven't had friends etc call me by Fernando's. (Just my grandmother has used it, on checks or whatever, lol.) Which is good, because in real life I have a name that could be male, and somehow when combined with Fernando's last name, I sound like a quarterback.

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  18. By the way, there's a Canadian opera singer named Measha Bruggergosman. Her last name is a combo of hers' and her husband's, and he has it as well. I like that better than a hyphen name!

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Thanks for reading! Unlike other Diaries, this one isn't private. Feel free to share your thoughts. Politely, of course.