I have three last names. Not the kind like the guy my mom used to date *cough Coleman Langam Wessel cough* but three actual last names that I float between depending on the circumstance: my maiden name, my legal name and my social name. Growing up I hated my last name. Loathed it. Despised it. Couldn't wait to get rid of it. It was weird (Welsh roots), no one ever spelled or pronounced it right and it was just too easy to bastardize into a taunt. Add in a strategic 'r' and voila! Instant hilarity. I was going to be just like my mom: get married right out of college and change my name! Except life didn't quite work out like that.
I had boyfriends since the age of 16 but none of them were ever the *One* so single I remained. Got an apartment, got a job and for seven years built a career with my god-awful maiden name. But something strange happened along the way: I no longer regarded my name as something to be despised, mocked, and shed at the earliest convenience; it was *me* and with no brothers, the possible end of our family name. Then I met Dyl and for the first time, really had to consider what I would do when I said 'I do'. To Dyl's everlasting credit, he never pushed for one or another as I was strongly considering just keeping my maiden name as I was established in my industry as my maiden name and didn't want to have to start again. Ah, the arrogance of youth. But I also believed that sharing a last name would help bind us together into a family unit and be a non-confusing link to any hypothetical children we might have. Who, for the record, are no longer hypothetical as evidenced by the sheer amount of plastic crap in the family room. What to do, what to do.
In the end, I took the semi-feminist way out and hyphenated. I kept mine, took his and went on my merry way. My family, who has a really admirable hands-off policy but a suspicious habit of betting on decisions, kept mum let me know later that in the 'What Will Dawn Do With Her Last Name' Pool that most put their money on keeping my maiden name. My mom was the only one who went with hyphenation. Yay mom. I use my maiden name at work, my legal hyphenated name for taxes and loans and official-type stuff, and Dyl's name as my 'social' name so as not to confuse teachers and neighbors. This has worked out pretty well except for when I can't remember which name I used with which program. "Try F----s. No? Well, try F-----s-L---e.' Oh, hell, just try 'L---e." In an unexpected bonus, I frequently have to spell Dyl's last name too as the silent 'E' really trips people up.
Good thing I've had a lot of practice.