Oh, look, a poem!
A long, long time ago
In a classroom far away
A child hated her last name
And she hoped that, some way,
She’d meet a man who’d save the day
And her surname would finally change.
But instead she met someone
Whose last name was a conundrum
She married him despite it
Now her last name, she can’t decide it
And everyone keeps saying go
To change her name to match her beau
But her mind keeps swaying to and fro
Should she be a Roach or Hublou?
In case the poem wasn’t clear enough, here I am, four months after marriage, still debating whether I should change my surname. For many a girl, this is an easy choice: either she chooses her spouse’s last name or she keeps her own (because her spouse’s name is terrible and her name is significantly better, or because she is famous).
If I were 8-year-old me (8YOM), my answer to “Should I change my last name” would be an emphatic YES. 8YOM would be like, “Girl, are you crazy? We have waited YEARS to be rid of the Roach, and now you’re having an existential dilemma!?!”
But while jokes like, “Is your dad Papa Roach?” and “Oh, look, I stepped on your cousin!” bothered me in second grade, I actually relish them now, because most adults are too afraid to be little kids again and it’s refreshing when I meet someone who is fearless (or ballsy…either one).
To make matters worse, my sister (onto whom the universe never ceases to bestow its luck and fortune) wormed her way into a perfectly spell-able, pronounce-able, quite frankly beautiful Italian surname. For her, there was no debate; as she put it, she couldn’t get to the Social Security office fast enough.
But my choice is complicated by the fact that both names are terrible!
So I’m reaching out to my blog readers (the few, the proud) for advice.
Let’s play the name game! I’ll present you with the facts, and you can vote for what you would do if you were me.
- Originality. Google “Carly Hublou” (with the “”) and you will discover that only two results return, both of which are me! (I locked down email@example.com as soon as we were engaged. Some of the many other Carly Roaches claimed firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com before I could, and I wanted to make damn sure that that couldn’t happen again!) Same for Kevin. Everywhere I go, I will always be the only Carly Hublou.
- Memorable. Even if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you will remember that girl Carly with the funny last name.
- Conversation Starter. There is a lot you can talk about here: How to say it, relationship to the watchmaking Hublots (please, please, please can we be related to that empire??), origins of the name (Belgium/Germany), Belgian waffles are yummy, etc.
- Originality. I might be the only Carly Hublou, but maybe I don’t want to be found so easily. Even though there aren’t that many Carly Roaches, I can at least hide behind the few that exist and retain some anonymity. There is no such veil as Carly Hublou.
- Tons of Work. Come on! No one gets excited about going to the DMV and/or the Social Security office, calling all of the credit-card and insurance companies, etc. And yes, there are companies that will make the changes for you for about $28, but I’m not the type of girl who pays someone to do something that I can begrudgingly do myself.
- Potential to Become a Joke. While some people may remember it for its originality, others may be so frustrated with saying/spelling it that it becomes a joke. When I first met Kevin, I called him Kevin Hullabaloo. If I am to be a professional female who is taken seriously, I don’t want people referring to me as Hullabaloo or any of the other potential bastardizations of the last name.
- Potential to Become a Distraction. Let’s say I’m in a professional setting, like an interview. I can pretty much guarantee you that every interview will begin with, “How do you pronounce your last name?” followed by various iterations of “Oh, wow, I feel sorry for your daughter(s)!” This already annoys me; I cannot imagine how much it will annoy me 20 years from now.
- My Children Will Hate Themselves. Roach was bad to grow up with, but at least it didn’t sound like “you blow”….
- Semi-Originality. Original enough to be memorable yet common enough to retain some anonymity.
- Easy. Everyone (except one substitute I had in 9th grade) can pronounce and spell Roach, and if they can’t, I follow up with, “Just like the bug.” (For the record, the sub pronounced it RO-ATCH.) This would not work with Hublou, at least until someone invents or discovers the hublou, whatever that may be.
- Nothing to Do. No paperwork to fill out because I wouldn’t be changing my name!
- Credibility. I’m already known as Carly Roach, and everything that I’ve ever done is under this name — from academics to blog posts written here and for other sites.
- I’m the Last One. My dad and all of his brothers created girls, all of whom have changed their last names. Like the Mohicans, I’m the last of my people! (But, as my sister said, why is Roach worth saving? I guess I’ve lived with it and its jokes for so long that it has become a sort of warm, comfy blanket to me.)
- Tradition. Most women change their names, and people raise eyebrows (yes, even in 2015) if your last name doesn’t match your husband’s, no matter how much bling is on your ring fing to prove you’re married.
- My Children Will Hate Themselves. Either their last name will not match mine (because they will take Kevin’s) and they will hate explaining the whole story to their friends, or their last name will be hyphenated, in which case I should just count on them never speaking to me again and hiding their emotions behind heavy eyeliner and trench coats. (Can you imagine going through middle school as “Child1 Roach-Hublou”? This is why hyphenating is out of the question for me, too.)
- Kevin Might Care. He says he wouldn’t, but I think he would care (but just a smidge) that I chose to forgo his family name.
Some women wait months or years to change their names, but I feel particularly rushed. As I approach the start of my graduate school years (during which I will be figuratively building a name for myself as well as interacting with professionals and professors with whom staying in contact could be beneficial to me), I feel obligated to decide on a name immediately. I don’t want to switch names halfway through and then have to explain myself to everyone who met me before the change. I don’t want my emails to be signed “Carly Hublou (née Roach).”
So, here’s your chance to play the name game:
Have more to say than this poll allowed for? Leave a comment below!