I can not believe my mother waited 37 years before telling me that I’ve been mispronouncing the family name. Thirty-seven years! It seems I started saying it wrong as I was leaving my toddler years, and it was “so cute and adorable” that they never corrected me. I’m almost forty, and my last name is not what I thought it was.
“Cute and adorable” she said…and I’ve been living a lie. It’s a hard K sound in the middle, not the soft C I’ve made all these years. God, it changes everything. It’s humiliating.
Do I tell anyone? Make a formal announcement: “Hi, my last name is really…” no, that’s not happening. What about all the people I have corrected over the years, when they were actually saying the name correctly?
Can I live with the lie I’ve unknowingly lived with for so long?
How do women getting married-who change their last name-do it? Do they face this lose of identity in the change, the way I’m feeling right now? How did they stand it in the past, when they were no longer Helen or Joan or Polly but Mrs. John Humphempuffle? Where did they put themselves when they were stashed away, their family name no longer really theirs?
Or…was it? Was there and insidious underground of housewives who reveled in secret calling out of their given names? Did some rejoice at shedding the old last name for the new, accepting they were The Royal Duke Earl and his Duchess? I can imagine: the men go off to smoke cigars, swill brandy or scotch, and harummph and berate each other soundly for their politics, while the women sat around, firmly stating their names to one another, keeping their place in the world.
Did they plot and scheme to eventually have hyphenated married names?
What about me? The hard K sound feels sinister to me. I say it out loud a number of times, trying to play with the inflection. No matter how I do it, it is still…off kilter. It makes me feel queasy, as if I should be doing something else with my life. The soft C me seemed content to work in the office, 9 to 5, come home to the wife and kids. Settled. Routine. Boring, but…no, shit. Boring.
The hard K now…sinister or not, it’s a different animal. The more I say it, the more it sounds right! What is that man, but what you call him? Juliet might have felt it was all the same for Romeo to cast off his last name, but me…me? It’s not the same at all.
I feel dangerous now, someone to be respected and, yes, feared. I should walk into my jerk of a boss’s office and proclaim my last name as it should be pronounced, and loudly thumped out with the hard K to knock him backwards and through the window. Petty little tyrant, and me…ME…a new name, MY name…
Hell, I should just forget about him, and walk up to his luscious Admin Ass…yes, proclaim my name and tell her what we are going to do. where we’re going to do it…and then take her and do it.
Why even bother? I should just run amok and drink and gamble and womanize with the worst of them, and I’ll love it. I could live like that movie where the character changed his whole life when he found out his father was really a Master Criminal!! Kill all the idiots who knew my name the correct way and shoved it in my face, bed all the women who wouldn’t give me the time of day, stomp on the bosses who bullied and sneered at me, the co-workers who threw me under buses, the clerks and cashiers and old people who are just out and out rude and have something against me…and that ass at the bank who won’t refinance my home, and then burn down that damn home…and my wife (who I am sure she has been cheating on me), she’ll find out what a real man is like, and wait until I get my hands on my bastard of an older brother…and my kids, who need a whole slew of lessons…
My last name…it’s said with a hard K, and it will change everything.
This is a work of FICTION, written in First Person
This has nothing to do with ME
If you look up at the top, it says “experimental fiction”