Names have always been a ‘thing’ for me, it started way back in 1974 on Christmas morning. I was a week early, I popped out fully cooked before the turkey roasting in the oven did and my folks decided I was Cathrine without an ‘e’. This decision has caused me years of grief and ever since I was old enough I’ve had to correct the spelling of my name. The past 35 or so years have gone a bit like this…..
“No, that’s right no ‘e’ in the middle, I know it’s an unusual way to spell it, you’ve never seen it spelt like that me neither oh except once in a cemetery on a grave stone dating back to the 1800’s. Just write Cath that’s fine.”
Full of euphoria (and maybe too much mulled wine) at becoming first time parents I am sure they didn’t realise the amount of missing emails this unusual spelling would lead to. I bet my bottom dollar that had Tom Hardy spelt my name without and ‘e’ I wouldn’t have missed the email he sent asking me out on a date. Damn you cruel world.
My surname also came with ‘baggage’ and caused plenty of playground ribbing. Anyone around in the 80’s would be familiar with both the Police Academy movies as well as the My Little Pony toy range – both brought me years of ear-grief. Thanks to Steve Guttenberg’s character in Police Academy I spent most of my youth being called ‘Cadet Mahoney’ or having the My Little Pony theme tune (with Cathrine Mahoney replacing My Little Pony) sang at me. Good times…
Then there was the ongoing conjecture around how I pronounce my name. Hailing from the north of England we say Ma-hone-knee in a sing-song Geordie way, however as Mr Herbert my high school history teacher liked to say (almost every sodding week) it should be pronounced the Irish way Ma-knee. So in short I didn’t know how to spell my first name and I was getting around saying my surname wrong too #winning.
Fast forward to a few year ago and as my wedding approached not only was I worrying about fitting into my dress I was stressing out as I really didn’t want to take my husbands name. After 32 years as a Mahoney and after a fair few nicknames (Cadet Mahoney, Mahoganny, Mudhoney, Mahones, Ma-honey, Minger) I actually had become quite attached to it. Now this wasn’t me just being stubborn, or because was hangry most of the time that saw me wanting to hang on to the old name, this was career related too. As a publicist with half of my work taking place over email my name was important – people knew me as Mahoney and would open a ‘pitch’ email from me.
After the wedding-high faded (along with my Bora Bora honeymoon tan) the chat started about me taking my husbands name. I got my side over the line and I remained ‘Cadet Mahoney’. Then I got pregnant and the name chat reappeared.
I finally conceded. I wanted the three of us to share the same surname. So began the pain-in-the-arse process of changing all of the bank accounts, credit card, gym membership, loyalty cards, Medicare card and work email address. And again I seemed to have a drama with my name. I thought having a strong, traditional, straightforward name like ‘Johns’ was a no brainer, what could go wrong? Well, whenever I gave my name while booking a restaurant on the phone, or ordering takeaway (remember before delivery apps when you actually had to phone in your food order?!) the person on the other end heard ‘Jones’. Even in my clearest BBC British accent they couldn’t get what I was saying.
“No, its Johns.”
“No, J-o-h-n-s. I’ll spell it.”
Arghhh! So when they asked how to spell Cathrine I would just say however they want to spell it would be fine.
As is sadly often the case these days, my husband and I didn’t live happily ever after. No he didn’t get eaten by a crocodile, we just got divorced.
I can’t speak for others going through this situation but for me in among the pain and turmoil of a separation I COULD NOT wait to get my name back. I thought you needed to wait for a divorce but apparently you just need your birth & marriage certificates. Some cards (and of course work email addresses) can be changed easily – others are a pain and I had just spent a fortune on a 10-year passport so some things stayed in my married name. One aspect that was super easy to change was social media – note to anyone else going through the early stages of a separation changing social media names is also a great way to share your new status without having to explain your marriage has gone tits up to every-man one and their dog.
So as it stands four years back to being ‘Mahoney’ my life (and wallet) is still a mish-mash of maiden and married names. I take potluck when I have to call up to talk to one of the many accounts I hold (house insurance, car insurance, healthcare etc) as to which name they have on their system for me. I wonder if Prince went through something similar as he went from Prince, to that symbol thing, back to Prince.
One thing I have to remember is when booking flights my passport is still in my married name – a ticket in the wrong surname comes with a hefty price tag to change it at the airport, trust me I know. Speaking of travel, arrival cards or filling out any forms that require you to give your title also sends me into a spin. As The Who sang ‘Who are you? Do, do, do do. I really want to know!’ Yes Pete Townsend so do I. Once divorced do I circle Ms, Mrs or Miss I have no idea! Sod it ‘Doctor’ Mahoney it is then.