Have you ever seen the movie “Something to Talk About” with Julia Roberts and Dennis Quaid? It’s set in the South, and one part of the movie has always stuck out of me. (But apparently it didn’t stick out for the thousands of YouTubers out there as I couldn’t find a clip, but I found this one, and it pretty much sums up the entire movie!)
The scene: a group of Southern Ladies are sitting in a room having their Junior League meeting and discussing the annual cookbook fundraiser.
- (Junior League President) On to the business of our centennial cookbook. Wee want it to be our best… so I’ll ask our committee chairman to bring us up to date.
- (Committee chairwoman) Deadline for recipe submissions is the second. Think about substituting vegetable shortening wherever it says lard. I say this because Nell McGee’s husband is recovering from heart surgery. Lucy’s going to take over for me until after the Grand Prix. That’s it.
- (Committee member)-Names
- (another committee member)-Right
- (Committee chairwoman) The committee thinks that… Well, we’ve looked at a lot of other cookbooks. We’ve always been listed with our married names under the recipes. Frankly, the practice of excluding our first names looks outdated. So, I think we should list our names: First, middle and last. That’s all.
- (Edna) I’ve always thought the way it was looked quaint.
- (Edna’s friend) It doesn’t look quaint Edna, it looks antiquated.
- (Edna’s other friend) What about tradition? If my name isn’t there as Mrs. Frankin J. Caldwell III… then how the hell is anybody gonna know who I am? Barbaranelle Caldwell, who’s that?
It cracked me up, because there are some traditions that took longer to break, down here in the South, than others. Even my mom mentioned the other day that when she was first married, she signed Mrs. John Doe, instead of Mrs. Jane Doe. So even in my life time, it was not uncommon for that practice!
I always assumed when I got married, I would take my husbands name, it’s just what is done.
Then life happened.
I became a single mother and enrolled my kid in school. And realized that life was so much easier having the same last name. And I have worked very hard for my last name. I’ve been in the same industry for almost 20 years, everyone knows me by my last name. There is no way I want to change that – nor have a different last name than my son.
I mentioned at a lunch meeting the other day, that should I get married, at this point, I’d keep my last name. I’d consider the hyphen, but that would just be to compromise. I’d want to keep my name professionally.
Imagine my surprise when he immediately said “I couldn’t marry someone that wouldn’t take my name.”
Really? Like for real?
That was interesting, and he is a younger guy, a new generation, I assumed he would be more progressive than that.
Which led me to a conversation with a good friend, and we were discussing marriage, as he’s in a committed relationship, but isn’t looking to get married – but his girlfriend is! I brought up my lunch conversation from a few days prior, and darned if he didn’t immediately have the same reaction!
He could totally see why I’d keep my last name on the professional side. And he understood wanting to save the hassle and having the same last name as Mr. T. But he, too, couldn’t marry someone who wouldn’t take his name.
So, I brought up the hyphen.
To which a visceral response happened! He said that he didn’t know why, and he couldn’t control it, but the moment he saw a woman with a hyphenated last name, his first thought was “b$t@#”.
He couldn’t explain it, it was just his automatic response.
So, I asked, but then would you be willing to adopt Mr. T? Because that has to be a valid reason, and he said “Of course, in a heart beat a kid like him I’d adopt.”
Okay, so that’s totally where I expected the hurdle to be, but adoption was a non-issue.
The not-changing-my-name, however, was a deal breaker.
Now, before you shake your head and think I’ve lost my mind, I recognize that some of my issues are really non-issues at this point. Mr. T is older, and so having the same last name for school and medical reasons doesn’t really apply anymore, but when he was younger, it was pretty legitimate!
I just love those moments when you get an insight into the other side of a thought! I had been so sure of my path until those two conversations – and now, well now I get to rethink!