Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Friday, August 04, 2006

What Year is It?

I didn't take Mr. J.'s last name. But this post isn't really about that and all the reasons I went that route. Maybe another time - or maybe not. This is about how in 2006, some people are still confused and shocked by my choice.

Monday morning, I went to a new doctor. I had to show up 30 minutes early to complete the paperwork. The first thing they asked for (of course) was my insurance card. Since Mr. J. is the slave to the man gainfully employed, he has the good health insurance. So his name is on the card.

After I completed four hundred bazillion forms, I returned to the little drive-thru window thing to find the receptionist sticking a label on a file folder with my first name and Mr. J.'s last name. I was confused, because I made the appointment in my name, and I gave her my driver's license, which also has my last name. For the sake of this conversation, let's pretend my last name is Jones and Mr. J.'s last name is Smith.

me: Oops - um, that's my husband's last name you've put on my chart there. My last name is Jones.
Receptionist: Oh. When is the divorce final?
me: What?
Receptionist: Well, if the divorce is final, then you're probably no longer covered by his insurance.
me: I -- I'm not -- I mean, that's, there's no divorce, I just, my last name is Jones.
Receptionist: So, you're legally separated, then?
me: No, I'm - we're married.
Receptionist: What's your maiden name, then?
me: It's the name I have now, Jones.
Receptionist: (Sighing in exasperation) No, your maiden name means the name you were born with.
me: Right, Jones.
Receptionist: Silence. Stares at me like I'm being difficult.
me: I never took my husband's last name. I'm married. To him.
Receptionist: Oh, so Jones is the name of your first husband? Then I still need your maiden name.
me: I - uh - (thinking, how did she know I have a "first husband?" - Or maybe it was just a good guess.) No. Jones is my name. The one I was born with.
Receptionist: So, I need to make this chart with Jones on it, instead of Smith?
me: Right.
Receptionist: Says nothing, shakes her head and sighs, making a big deal of dramatically ripping the label off the file folder and typing a new label.

I'm sorry - what year is it? Is a woman not taking her husband's last name that mystifying? Never mind. I have my answer. I just thought we'd "come a long way, baby."


Blogger Art Nerd Lauren said...

Pretty much the only reason I didn't hyphenate my last name is because idiots couldn't seem to file charts, etc in the right place. GAH! It's not uncommon, really!

And why didn't she trust that you did, in fact, know your own last name? I just don't understand!

August 04, 2006 11:12 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

My ex (long story with what should have been a predictable ending) had trouble dealing with the concept of taking my name. She always said she didn't want to be an "s" - as in Mrs. = Mr + s. Or Mrs. Andy Bussell. She saw it as symbolic of my ownership of her in society's eyes. I thought she was being a bit dramatic and that it's just a personal choice as to how you want to be referred. I didn't care. I wouldn't change my name. Why would anyone else want to change theirs?

August 04, 2006 11:56 AM  
Blogger liberalbanana said...

Wow, that lady was mental. Can this seriously be the first time she's had to deal with someone whose last name is not the same as her husband's? That's ridiculous.

August 04, 2006 12:21 PM  
Blogger Sarcomical said...

ooh, this was very interesting. what a difficult bitchy nurse. i think she just was threatened by the idea of a woman that "liberated" standing so close to her. ;)

August 04, 2006 1:07 PM  
Blogger Veronica Mitchell said...

How strange. How could anyone be so unfamiliar with a woman keeping her own name? Weird. Probably just feigning stupidity to cover her mistake putting the wrong name on the chart.

I took my husband's name for purely shallow reasons. I thought it was prettier than my own. He did not like my choice and grumbled about it for years. "I didn't marry Veronica Mitchell, I married Veronica Smith. I don't know who Veronica Mitchellis." Eventually he got over it.

August 04, 2006 2:30 PM  
Blogger Fraulein N said...

Gaaaaah. I hate when people make errors and then try to act like you're the dummy. I also hate when women refer to themselves as "Mrs. John Smith." NO, ma'am, that isn't your name. If I look up "John Smith" in the database, guess who comes up? That's right, your husband. Who, by the way, is not you.

August 04, 2006 3:00 PM  
Anonymous dear wife said...

Ug, I have had this same exsperience. It always surprises me that people find this so hard to grasp in this day and age. This is partly why I decided to change my name with the baby on the way. I just thought it would be easier and I did not want anyone to question if it was my kid or not. Now I am just waiting for my worst fear, people calling me by Mrs John Smith. I hate that.

August 04, 2006 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Drunkenspaniel said...

Yeah, people don't get it. I took my husband's surname, at least for the time I lived with him, and then swapped back to my name as soon as I could when I left him.
If I married again would I keep my name????.......... Not sure.

I know a guy who married and took his wife's surname. Now that messed with people's heads. Particularly anyone who tried to sell him insurance for some reason. His argument was that if women can do it as soon as they have a marriage certificate, then why not men?

August 04, 2006 5:29 PM  
Blogger happychyck said...

Wow! That woman works with the public? Surely she has to deal with stranger situations than a woman who does not carry her husband's name. Bizarre.

August 04, 2006 6:44 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Your sidebar reminded me of something I heard the other night - if a non-vegetarian thinks of themselves as an animal person, is that the same as a cannibal considering himself a people person? (Not the same in my books :o)

To Love, Honor and Dismay

August 04, 2006 7:34 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Good grief, she's living under a bigger rock than I am. But, in a household with three last names (I have my maiden, the kids my ex's, P and his son have P's), I so know what you mean. I fully expect to have my kid's friends not get it, but a full grown adult should, ya know?

I have already decided that when P and I marry, I will have two last names because that is easier than going through and changing all my licenses for work. Just going back to my maiden name was a chore and a half.

August 04, 2006 9:32 PM  
Blogger zygote daddy said...

Wow. Sorry I'm not more articulate,

August 05, 2006 12:37 AM  
Blogger ColoradoCastaway said...

my wife only took my last name because she was tired of having to spell hers for everyone. mine is much more common except that like me she is growing tired for telling everyone there is NO "D" in the spelling.

August 05, 2006 11:48 AM  
Blogger Jenny said...

I've never had something as bad as that, but I have a similar situation and I've been shocked at the amount of confusion it seems to create. The oddest was just last week, when we received the tax bill for our house addressed to Joshua Smith and Jennifer Smith. Our deed is in the name of Joshua Smith and wife Jennifer Jones. Our last year's tax bill was correct. Apparently they transferred data to a new system and the system assumed married = same last name. However, they politely corrected it when I wrote a note.

On the other end of the spectrum, I used to know a guy whose parents had met on a blind date when someone set them up because they had the same last name. He was always filling out forms that said "Father's Name: John Smith, Mother's Name: Mary Smith" and having people say "NO. Smith is NOT her maiden name" and he'd have to say "NO. Smith IS her maiden name. I know my mother's maiden name."

August 05, 2006 12:06 PM  
Blogger NYC Educator said...

People with little jobs often need to exercise their huge power. I used to think if I went to hell I'd spend all eternity in the NYC Board of Education headquarters, dealing with endless paperwork.

Later, I married a woman fron South America, and had to deal with the INS. I quickly realize the Board of Ed. were rank amateurs. I'll spare you the specifics, but your receptionist would never make it in the big time. She sounds stupid enough, but her obnoxiousness is strictly bush league.

August 06, 2006 12:13 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

I, like so many others who have already commented, am truly amazed at this woman. Where the hell has she been living???? We know so many women who've kept their last names - I even know a couple that ended up taking both names- they are both hyphenated.
Personally, I wasn't that attached to my maiden name for a myriad of reasons that I'll go into on my blog, maybe, so I took my husband's name. But, I like knowing that I didn't HAVE to.

August 06, 2006 1:33 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

That is funny. Really really funny. Poor woman. She doesn't even realize she's dumb.

I didn't take my husband's name. He's Italian. We got marreid in Italy. No one takes their husband's name in Italy. Not for feminist reason, but because it would take so long to do all the paperwork that there is no point in doing it. The irony? I LOVE my husband's last name. It is the prettiest last name ever. Every once in awhile I consider doing all that paperwork just so I can have it for my last name too.

But I'm lazy. And so I've kept mine, and probably will.

August 06, 2006 2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really blinkered thinking. Awful. How dare she?! (I think two consecutive punctuation marks are entirely merited there).

August 06, 2006 5:15 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

ROFL. Anytime I get exasperated with people who are slow like this, I just think of are like a dumbass magnet! Gob bless ya.

August 07, 2006 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Alexandrialeigh said...

I am so furious over things like this, I can't even comment anything else or I may burst into flames. Perhaps MS. RECEPTIONIST should just do her job without commentary.

August 07, 2006 9:31 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

I think that situation was more that you encountered an Absolute Idiot than anything to do with society today. I don't think it's so incredibly uncommon for wives to keep their maiden names to warrant her complete lack of comprehension!

August 07, 2006 9:37 AM  
Blogger drstaceyny said...

Clearly, you didn't think you existed before you married Mr. J, did ya? Silly girl. . .

August 07, 2006 12:58 PM  
Blogger desiree said...

I work in a business where I need customer's mother's maiden names. I have had to explain atleast 50% of the time what that means. Most people just give me a blank stare when I say "the name your mother had before she was married." I cannot understand people who are fully funtioning grown adults who have never heard the phrase mother's maiden name before. Hence, on the one hand I would understand if said receptionist perhaps thought that you had it backwards but instead she was just being a bitch. I mean, how dare your husband let you out into public without taking his last name? For that matter, what was she doing outside the home? Why wasn't she in her place baking pies? There is a difference between clarifying something politiely with a person (which she did not) and just plain being a stupid idiot (which she was).

I know many women who have kept their last name. If we need something for identification purposes we start pulling middle names. It's not like you had a third eye growing out of your head. Sheesh.

August 07, 2006 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Lady S said...

I mess with them all. I kept my name AND took my huband's. My students call me Mrs. Married Name, but I introduce myself as Maiden Name Married Name. Partly because my father is very well known in my community and it helps that people make the connection, but also because a coworker said she didn't know who "Jane Smith" was, she certainly wasn't ready to try to figure out who "Jane Jones" was.

You really wanna mess with people? A friend has 3 kids, the two boys have her husband's last name and the girl has her last name.

September 17, 2006 9:24 PM  

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