Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Naming Conventions

Last weekend we went to an extended Dotytron family function.  We were talking about potential names for the twerps and someone was trying out one of the names on our shortlist and said, "____ Dotytron" and I interjected, "How do you know the last name is going to be Dotytron?" and was met with a pregnant silence and pregnant-with-multiples significant looks.

Now, I am a known contrarian, so the surest-fire way to get me to do something is to express disapproval (even by way of pregnant pauses and significant looks) about the opposite choice.

I am ALSO a known feminist, and nothing rankles me more than getting mail addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. _ Dotytron."  Sometimes they cut the Dotytron out of the picture and refer to me as "Mrs. Karl Dotytron."  This mail ALWAYS comes from the Dotytron's side of the family.  ALWAYS.  Paternal side and the maternal side.  It is infuriating to me and one of the reasons why I'm always asking the Dotytron to divorce me.

We talked about what last name the Big Yam was going to have quite extensively.  At the time, it was decided that since my last name is actually my deadbeat dad's surname, and that the Dotytron's last name meant a lot to him, and coming on the heels of Poppa Dotytron's passing (Poppa Dotytron the elder was very much into genealogy and took great pride in the fact that there had been a Dotytron on the Mayflower), that the Big Yam would have the Dotytron's last name.

I was (am) okay with this decision, but I didn't assume then that subsequent Lagerfeld-Dotytron progeny would necessarily bear the Dotytron's last name.  We have had passing, brief, conversations about it and I had expressed an interest that perhaps if the next kid was a girl, we could follow in the footsteps of my friends J & S and have the daughter have my last name.  The Dotytron always dismissed these notions, which made me mad, but in a light-hearted way because I knew he was needling me.  He knew that the speed with which he outright rejected my proposals was an easy way to get my goat (along the lines of say, denying responsibility for a toot that was OBVIOUSLY his).

The weighty silence and askance eyes on the weekend (made more galling by the fact that they were directed at the Dotytron, as in, "Are you sure you, the man, are okay with this?") resulted in a very angsty, defiant reconsideration of the issue that same night (angsty and defiance all mine, it should be noted).  I was hoppin' mad.  I am reacting to a few things:

1) the underlying assumption that being a Dotytron is just SO DAMNED GREAT that of course you would have the Dotytron last name.  Well you know what?  Being from the clan Lagerfeld is ALSO pretty great.  It means that there's always PLENTY of food put out and that people love eating and that it's always pretty much okay to wear your pajamas to Xmas dinner and that you're eating with people who have heard of butter chicken.  It means that you can move quickly from political conversations to airing family dirty laundry and having it out to having screaming arguments about popular culture.  It means a lot of pretty great things.  It means that you can always pretty much be yourself and don't have to put on a polite façade.

2) that it's important to me that the Dotytron and our progeny are aware that they come from two individuals.  The Dotytron is as much a part of the Lagerfeld family as I am a part of the Dotytron family.  Our kids are a mixed and blend of us both.

3) What's so great about your ancestor being on the Mayflower again?  It's not like England was like, "Hey newly established Colony, take our best and brightest captains of industry and go forth and flourish!"  The people on the Mayflower were separatists and weirdos and outcasts who ended up stealing from Natives.  It is well known that the actual Dotytron on the Mayflower was a drunk and ne'er-do-well...so why is this a point of pride again?

4) gender roles, etc.

To illustrate the difference between the families, my family generally refers to ourselves in group emails by using this hyphenated version of all our respective last names.  Like, family vacations are "Ho-Lee-Shi-Do" family vacations and Uncle Rico had that printed up on our matching t-shirts we got when we went to Disney World.  The Dotytron family assumes that you become a Dotyron, when as woman (of course!) you marry a Dotytron male (of course!)

Anyway, so I went on this huge, reactionary tirade using the reasons listed above as the basis for why I want the twerps to have my last name and the Dotytron was basically very agreeable about the whole thing and reasonable and listened and in the process basically took all the angry, angsty wind out of my sails.  To each of my points he just said, "Yes, but I don't think that" and even though I don't know if that will be enough in the long term as an expression of praxis, it reminds me that in my home, we are socialists and feminists and we have are living a praxis that is coordinated and negotiated and meaningful.  That goes a long way.

The surname of the twerps hasn't been settled yet, but I feel better knowing that we'll come to some kind of consensus and that like, I'm not being oppressed by my partner.  That's pretty important to me.  Not quite as important as finding the bolognese I packed for lunch and thought I had left for home, but close.

In Big Yam news, he is being pretty adorable.  He found this plastic construction hat that Momma D bought for him and fussed around for a few minutes trying to put it on so that it faced the right way and balanced properly.  When he did, he said, "I'm beautiful" and it was the cutest thing ever.  He also says, "Hello!" to my belly and then says, "I'm your big sister!" which is also pretty darned sweet.

We've been rejigging things a bit around the house to get things ready for the Big Yam's room move after the arrival of the twerps.  This means that the record player is now in the living room, which means that each night after dinner we unwind by napping (me), playing independently or pestering the parental units (Big Yam), or drinking a scotch (the Dotytron) while listening to jazz records.  Guys, we're like the freakin' Huxtables!!!  A dream come true!  The basement has been co-opted by the Dotytron into a guitar practice space, which seems to be working out well.  It's so separate from the rest of the house and I avoid going down there which means he really gets uninterrupted time to focus on his playing.  The Dotytron's aunt also gave us this OG Fisher Price record player and we love it.  It must be at least 30 years old and it works beautifully.  The re-issue version they're selling isn't the same.  The original version is a music box and you have to crank it to get it to go.  Love this thing.

Tonight for dinner we had a Middle Eastern mezes type meal of dips, fried halloumi, warmed pita, a tomato-cucumber-lemon-mint salad, and sliced leftover lamb.

Fin.

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