The Two and Only McGillagreen’s

Husband and I finally went and did it–that is we blended out last name’s AND we made it legal. This craziness started about a year and a half ago when I suggested we hyphenate our names when we get married and he said, “hyphenation is dumb.” That was obviously the beginning to a fruitful and mature conversation. You have to understand that my parents kept their respective names because my mother wanted to hyphenate and my dad said, “hyphenation is dumb.” Somethings you just can’t make up. Like the fact that in many respects I married my father. I try to ignore it.

Anyway, Husband had no idea the can of worms he cracked when he told me hyphenation was dumb. Now I am not a huge fan of hyphenation my self. It just gets sticky when you add kids to the picture, and kids are sticky enough. I also don’t like the idea of having to say and write such a long name all the time. But I also believe that marriage should be a partnership between two people, and I wanted our name to be a symbol of that partnership. I liked hyphenation for that reason only: it shows a commitment from both spouses instead of just one.

I wouldn’t say that Husband and I argued about this per say; I would rather say that we had a lively, heated, debate. I may at one point have told him that hyphenation was his price he had to pay to make up for being a part of the sex that had kept women oppressed for a millenia. Some people have told me I can be a little dramatic–I honestly don’t see it. Turns out I was the one trapped in a box I couldn’t think myself out of. I was seriously distressed that we didn’t see eye to eye. I wouldn’t say I started to doubt the relationship, but hyperventilation might not have been far off.

Then Husband said these magical words, “why don’t we make up our own last name.” I honestly thought he was joking, but after we had calmed down after a good laugh the idea had stuck and before we knew it we were making  a list of all of the conceivable combinations of our two last names. There were combos that were out immediately, like McGreen which sounded like a weird moldy sandwich from McDonald’s. It took us a while to settle on McGillagreen–months really.

Deciding on the name itself hasn’t been the only hurdle. As it turns out Oregon doesn’t recognize blended last names. Kashi and I both had to go to through a legal name change. We had to go to the courthouse and petition to change our names. It started with putting up a petition on a bulletin board for all to see. I believe this is a vestigial process left over from the days before internet and telecommunications were invented, but I don’t actually know that for sure. Our petition had to be up for at least 14 days, then we had our hearing with the judge.

This is the one case where I can see how someone might call me dramatic. Maybe. I may have exaggerated the meeting with the judge. I made Husband print out legal documents and financial statements to prove that we weren’t trying to evade any financial responsibility by changing our names. I worried for the three weeks leading up to our court date, the worry kicking into overdrive for the 20 minute drive downtown. I think Husband’s hand needed to be wrung out after I kept clutching it. I mean what if the judge said no? We already made the change on Facebook?!

Turns out I had nothing to be worried about. We entered the courtroom with about 20 or so other people who were trying to change their name as well. I have to admit that my worry didn’t dissipate until after the judge signed out orders, even though the judge didn’t even sit in on the hearings. That should have been my first clue that we would be fine, considering the judge didn’t think it worth her time to officially officiate the whole process. Her aide took our paperwork, make sure it matched with some other paper work she had on us and then sat our paperwork on the accepted pile for the judge to sign later.

Looking back that wasn’t the only thing about the process that should have made me realize that everything would be fine. Before we went into the hearing they told us to just go ahead and order any extra copies that we might want of our official name change. You think that would have been a sign, especially after I asked the cashier if buying them early was bad luck and she just laughed. Apparently I am not very good at reading the signs.

But sitting in the courtroom waiting for our names to be called, none of that mattered. About five people were called before us, and all five of them were denied a name change. I think one woman hadn’t completed the archaic process correctly, another was trying to change the name of her granddaughter but hadn’t served the biological mother with papers first. And then without any pomp and circumstance it was all over. Our names were changed and we were walking out of the courthouse. Now we just have to change everything else: IRS, Social Security, driver’s licences, passports, my student loans, alumni associations, credit cards, bank, membership programs, USPS, car titles, etcetera etcetera. Since our names are already legally changed, I think we can keep the worrying to a minimum.

Right? Right?!




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