Taking a Husband’s Name, for Better or Worse
Good news and bad news about having the surname Strasser.
Maj. Strasser is a character in “Casablanca,” arguably the best movie of all time. On the downside, Maj. Strasser is a major Nazi, which causes major confusion in Hebrew school and thereafter for a Jewish girl like me.
As if my super Catholic first name wasn’t confusing enough.
So, though I never had any wedding fantasies involving elaborate bouquets, veils, first dances or big rocks, I secretly dreamed of marrying into a new last name. In my fantasies, I tried on lots of new monikers. They were often Irish and always easy to spell; I would be Flynn or Riley. I also fancied names that conjured news anchors, soap opera characters or sorority girls. After a little paperwork, I would spend my days ordering things on the phone and simply spelling out Fox, Blake, Stone or Woods.
I often thought it would be nice to acquire a last name starting with the letter “T,” which would be alliterative, a quality everyone knows means you were once the prom queen or at least part of the homecoming court, or just plain promising. Most likely to succeed: Teresa Taylor, Tyler, Thomas, Thompson or Tate.
Without the baggage of changing my grandfather’s name out of sheer vanity, I could have a brand new handle; it would be simpler, sexier and less… Nazi.
In the absence of a superior surname, I figured I would just retain my original name and thus uphold the feminist values instilled in me by my mother, who would turn off the television during a Clorox commercial to deliver a dissertation on the paternalistic values reflected in every stroke of the housewife’s sparkly mop.
Well, love changes you. And in my case, it’s changing my name.
I’m getting married at the end of the month, and while I found a dream man, he did not come with a dream name.
It’s a Polish Catholic name, and what it lacks in mellifluousness, it makes up for with a surfeit of consonants. Think Det. Wojciehowicz from the TV show “Barney Miller.” It’s a lot like that. He may be a fox, but unfortunately he’s not a Fox.
As for my mother, she kept her married name even after my parents divorced. When I asked her why, she pointedly annunciated her very unpleasant maiden name with an implicit “duh,” and that was that. So maybe I am my mother’s daughter.
For the record, he never asked me to take his name. One day I just pictured us together, cats, kids, all with one last name. One less-than-perfect last name, but a uniform one all the same.
So, while I’m keeping my name professionally, in my private life, Mrs. Wojciehowicz can look forward to spending her days spelling and re-spelling, with a weary rendition of the old “W as in whiskey, O as in Oscar, J as in Jew that always dreamed of a cool name but sold out to the old-fashioned name change when she fell in love.”
This is so vapid I can almost hear Sarah Jessica Parker’s voice-over and visualize her pontificating look out the window. Carrie B. can’t feel my pain (for one thing, because she isn’t real). In the “Sex and the City” movie, Big’s last name was revealed to be Preston. That is just the kind of bland, breezy name I always coveted. The point is, love was harder to find than my new name is to pronounce. So, it’s goodbye Strasser.
Still, I’ll always have fond memories of my old last name and the classic film it conjures every time I hear, “Spell it again, Ma’am.”
Teresa Strasser is the news reporter and co-host of “The Adam Carolla Show” on KLSX.