I had changed my name about a year ago to hyphenate with my wife, but there always seems to be one more place to update my name. My bank account was changed, but not my debt card…which caused me trouble when I was trying to cash a check.
I showed my ID and they said that they would need to process me for a new card before I left. The banker took me to the back and started asking a bunch of personal questions, first and foremost why I changed my name.
“I got married.”
“Really? …and they…they just let you change your name like that?”
“Sure. I mean there are a lot of forms to fill out, but you can change your name at anytime for whatever reason you want.”
“Oh, but…why did you want to?”
“Well, it was important to me that we had the same last name…you know, since we were one family. I was important to me that we have the same last name to establish ourselves as a family.”
He leaned back in his chair and paused for thought.
“Wow. Well, two things…first, I think that’s great, but…second…you’re making the rest of us look bad…seriously.”
This struck me as a funny thing to say…or rather at least the shock in which he said it, as if I invetned the idea of hyphenating names. I know that hyphenating isn’t the norm, but it’s not that unheard-of. He went on and on as if I was a pioneer. I had a meeting to go to and I wanted to move this along. He kept asking questions, bringing it on back to our account. I finally realized that he was only questioning me so much because he was trying to find a product to sell us on.
“Oh, look, I appreciate what you’re doing…but my wife handles these accounts. You’ll have to talk to her if you want to do anything to them. I just need my card?”
“Yeah…it was her account before we were married, so she handles it mostly.”
He sits back in his chair for thought.
“I thought you were gay! That’s why I thought it was so great that you were hyphenating your names together; I had never heard of a gay marriage where they hyphenated their names before!”
Then the whole conversation started making sense; it is pretty unusual for homosexuals to take each others names when they are married.
It started making sense…except when I started thinking of how rarely in New York one comes across a legally married same-sex couple. He was sitting there, looking at me, and thought it was much more likely that I just moved here from Vermont with my partner than the (obviously unlikely) possibility that I might just be straight.