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I always said I wouldn’t change my last name* when I got married. Growing up my last name (which is three syllables and six letters, four of which are vowels) wasn’t outrageously uncommon; a lot of people in town knew my parents and knew how to pronounce it. When I moved to the Wonder Bread Midwest, it was a different story. People announcing my name (professors, friends, doctor’s offices) would say my first name, say the first letter of my last name and then stop with a look in their eye like someone had just pointed a gun at them. I quickly learned to just spell my last name without even trying to pronounce it for people. Not that that always helped. (“Hi, it’s Zoo, and the last name is A-G-U –” “OK, Zoo H-U…” “No, it’s A. G…” “A-H –” “NO, A as in Apple, G as in GODDAMMIT, U as in Up yours…” and so on.) So I hated my last name a lot in those years. Then I moved to the PNW where there is a larger Hispanic population so that at least 50% of the time, people wouldn’t panic at the sight of vowels in the middle of my name and get it right. I was also in my middle/late 20s by that point and wasn’t sure I was ever wanted to get married and was all WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR and identifying with the name that had been with me my whole life.

When we got engaged, Mr. Zoo didn’t care if I took his name or not. Which was refreshing. But then in the midst of wedding planning and writing our vows, I had the romantic notion that adding his last name to mine would be The Ultimate Symbol of our unity. No hyphen, though. Just a space. Because that’s just how I roll. (Sidebar: when I told Mr. Z about this decision, he said “That sounds great! Maybe I’ll add your last name to mine as a second middle name to complete the Unification Process!” and then hurried up and never did it. lol) Looking back on it, I’m not unhappy I added his name to mine, I like still having a part of my history with me, and I didn’t want to “get rid of” my middle name to do so (which is what my mom did). However. Having two last names is kind of, generally, a pain in the ass. On my legal documents, it’s both names, but for most purposes I just go by my husband’s last name, because it’s easier. It’s two syllables and a relatively common or at least understandable Irish last name (unless you’re the person taking reservations at Jake’s Grill that one time who added several vowels to the end and made it French). In retrospect, I should have just kept my original last name and gone by his name socially, since that’s what I do anyway. But hell if I’m going through the hassle of getting ANOTHER social security card and having yet another addendum put on my passport. I made my two-last-names-no-hyphen-just-a-space bed and I’ll lie in it, all snuggled in with the vowels and consonants.

When we were engaged, I frequented the message boards on theknot.com (yes, I did), and I remember sooooo many conversations about changing our last names (because, come on, like there were any men on those boards). I was always flabbergasted by the fiances who were so ADAMANT that their future wives take their names and had this kind of compelling argument to back themselves up:
Bride: But I don’t want to change my name.
Groom: But you HAVE to take my name! It’s what everyone does!
Bride: But it’s MY name. I love my name!
Groom: What’s the big deal? It’s just A NAME.

And the grooms would never see the hypocrisy in that. Dude, if it’s JUST A NAME then why is it such a big deal? If it’s JUST A NAME then take her name. Or become the Jingleheimerschmidts. For crying out loud. In my (humble and apparently very venty) opinion, “it’s just a name” and “it’s just what’s done” are not effective arguments. And neither is, for me, the all-too-important Carrying On Of The Family Name argument. Because, you never know what is going to happen. You may not be able to have kids. You may decide you don’t want kids. You may have only girls. The possibilities go on and on. So even if you argue the Carrying On The Family Name (COTFN) point, you’re really only arguing it for possibly your children, if you have them and one of them happens to be a boy. And! Even if you DO have kids and you have a boy and you all have the same (read: husband’s) last name, there is no guarantee that that boy will have children at all, much less a son. So the COTFN argument only works for the generation following you. You just never know! And to continue the “you never know” argument, your daughters may have your last name and could either have a son as a single parent or have an open-minded spouse who doesn’t care, and give that son the last name that will Carry On. Or, your son might decide to change his last name to your wife’s family last name because maybe SHE was the last one with her family’s name and he wants to COTFN. So many possibilities!

Which is all a rambly and hostile way of saying, it’s just a name. The desperation of some to Pass Their Name On To Future Generations seems kind of silly when we’re all just a product of the random order of the universe that caused us to be born in each of our particular families. I still would have been the same Zoo whether or not my family had been named Smith or Kim or Hitler. OK, not really, but you know what I’m trying to say. My parents would have been the same, my siblings, aunts, uncles, our town, my home environment, yada yada. Yes, I identified with Zoo UnpronouncableLastName because that’s who I was for almost 30 years before I got married. Now I identify as Zoo TwoLastNamesNoHyphen because that’s who I am. But mostly I identify as Zoo- ShortChubbyChick- IsOftenLazy- HasTooManyAnimals- MakesAMeanCrockpotMeal- Crochets.

Or, you know, just Zoo for short.

* I refuse to call it my maiden name any longer. Maiden. Blech. Sounds so – I don’t know – so arranged-marriage and nice-suitable-boy-from-a-good-family and presented-at-court archaic.

August 3, 8:15pm: Zoo can tell you why the Portland area weather is going to get cooler starting tomorrow: BECAUSE SHE’S GOING OUT OF TOWN. goddamnyou, Irony. Or Murphy’s Law. Or Alannis Morissette. Whatever.

August 4, 5:28am: Zoo had the double whammy of (a) waking up at 4am and (2) no hot water.
(I neglected to mention on Facebook that I also got my period that morning, because I certainly don’t overshare on the internet or anything.)

August 4, 11:13am: Zoo is in a holding pattern at DIA. (because we sat on the plane for WHAT FELT LIKE HOURS while they made room for our plane)

August 5, 10:34am: Zoo is somewhere in Middle America.
Best comments: Just find the ring and get back to the shire safely! (Oh, and pick up some milk on the way.) and I think you better turn your ticket in and get your money back at the door.

August 5, 11:12am: I forgot how bad hotel coffee is.

August 5, 1:22pm: It’s not a family vacation until EVERYONE is pissed off.

August 5, 3:21pm: Beer.

August 5, 5:02pm: Zoo asked the nice museum gift shop lady if they sell stamps and she sold us one from her wallet. At a discount, none the less! Only in the midwest. (she gave us one of the stamps she had for her personal use – I gave her 45 cents and she said “Oh no, just give me 40. Or if you don’t have a nickel I’ll just take 35 cents.”)

August 5, 9:37pm: Tonight’s family activity: beading. Srsly. Ktnxbai.

August 5, 10:17pm: I just shouted “LOOK HOW LOUD I HAVE TO YELL” over the entire family who thinks having eight conversations over each other is an effective communication method. (it’s from a Simpsons episode)

August 5, 10:20pm: A word about beading: lots of opportunities for “That’s what she said.” (“This hole’s too small!” “I can’t get it in!” “It’s not big enough!”)
Best comment:
just watch where you stick your beading needle, that’s all I’m saying

August 6, 10:04am: It’s beer-thirty somewhere, yes?

August 6, 1:54pm: Things learned the last 48 hours: kids do not stop talking. Ever. At all.

August 6, 3:40pm: Zoo marvels that PA systems both in airports and fast food restaurants employ the human-voice-to-Peanuts-teacher conversion.

August 6, 4:40pm: Denver airport’s Concourse A is leaking. Awesome. (during the 30-minute thunderstorm that RUINED EVERYONE’S DAY.)

August 6, 5:37pm: Zoo is smarter than a Fifth grader. (I discovered a game on my cell phone.)

August 6, 6:34pm: Zoo is missing her flight crew in Denver. Would be willing to serve coffee herself IF IT MEANS GETTING THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD. Or in the air, anyway. (we would discover later that we didn’t really have a plane waiting for the crew anyway. buncha liars.) (this was about 40 minutes after our flight was supposed to depart, btw)

August 6, 8:40pm: Zoo is making friends with her fellow delayed passengers.

August 7, 12:01am: Zoo is HOME HOME HOME.

“Cost of central air installation OMG OMG SO UNBEARABLY HOT KILL ME NOW.”

Email

zooaskew[at]gmail[dot]com
August 2017
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I said what?