What’s In A Name?


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”


Thank you.


28 responses »

  1. Interesting thought Stuart! Well, I actually went through a similar experience (not so fictional for me I guess, lol). All my life I spelled my second name with a K (Kristine), only for me to find out in my late 20s that on my birth cert. it’s spelled as Christine! All my school records, bank records, baptismal certificate bear the name Joy Kristine. But on my birth cert, US visa, passport (and subsequently all US documents now) bear the name Joy Christine. I prefer ‘K’ but what can I do right? ;-))


  2. It took me about 3 seconds to question the other pronunciations and reject them, I mean I’ve known you long enough to know your name was neither one. ThenI could relax and read the story as you meant it, and consider all the options of why and how of name changes. Good piece, Stu, very thoughtful.


  3. Nice post Stu (with a soft K). I am so attached to my maiden name that I have kept it. that said, we French have lots of middle name and it is quite easy to swap first names. Makes life easier. Great post again!


  4. Ok I really feel sorry for you… I pronounced it with a g….. So what are we supposed to refer to you from now on?

    My surname is different from the rest of the family; my name was a “tribute” to one of my grandma’s aunt who had passed away a few days before I was born. So, I was “blessed” with a different name all in all and I had to face weird questions all my life…. In school, people thought I was the “adopted one” and hence I was given a different name from my sibling…and the “toon” in my surname drew a lot of unwanted attention… really, what’s in name?


    • Hajra…I added an Author’s Note to the STORY. This is a work of fiction, written in First Character voice. I don’t do “real” stories here…this is not a personal blog. That’s Bornstoryteller.


  5. Geez…and all this time I was saying it with a soft ‘g’ sound LOL. And in answer to your question…yes, some woman do prefer hyphenated names for that exact reason. When I was getting married, I said my new name over and over again and couldn’t come to accept it alone. Especially knowing that there were only two girls in the family and my sister had already given up her maiden name…she never fights the system. Being that youngest, I felt it was my born duty to carry on the name. No problems with my husband, although he didn’t want me to burden the kids with such a long name. His rationale was that if they chose to have my name when they got older, they could always change it. My son, interesting enough, is now looking at doing that 🙂
    Great post! Hope you get settled with it eventually 🙂


    • um…ok…Fiction..story…nothing to settle…sigh…every time I write a story in first person….btw..my last name does have a hard G…always has. Hope this clears things up Mary…anything and everything on Tale Spinning is fiction.


  6. I was about to tell you my other names but you might get some ideas for another piece! Magnificently written, the twists and turns, like opening the box of Pandora. Thanks, Stuart with a soft K!


  7. My maiden name is Wielputz; I never did learn to pronounce it correctly. Spelling it is even more fun though, especially when spelling it out loud 🙂 I didn’t use this name growing up though; I used my foster parents last name.

    I was very careful in choosing my three (now ex) husbands; I made sure I liked the last names. Perhaps I should have been more interested in the men themselves . .

    You’ll get used to your name Stuart 🙂


  8. Can’t imagine your surprise. Almost like being told you belong to a different family. So what’s in a name? I guess it’s everything – our identity, for starters. Love the humor in this account.


  9. I love this one. So thought provoking, and so well developed. I loved the way the passion built up until it ended, in a climax of emotion that left me feeling a little nervous. Great writing and a riveting read.


  10. Oh, this is really brilliant, one of your best pieces :-)) I LOVE it! So many layers, the bit about women and married, the change in his personality, etc. Love the rather chilling vein that runs through it in the end. Well done, I’m proud of you! Great wrap-up line too!!


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