Seaman. My unfortunately appointed last name had been my calling card since a dark day in Grade 6 health when we learned about the male reproductive system. The plethora of hilarious and/or disgusting nicknames have long followed me since high school, so when the day finally came to get married, you’d think I wouldn’t give changing it a second thought.
But I had a really hard time with the whole concept of it. As a proud feminist, my first thought was to never change it for a man. My man didn’t care either way. I had come to almost enjoy the shock people had when they heard my last name and knew that at least everyone would always remember me.
The Seaman name has a long, fond history: From the days when my father would call the local Pizza Hut for our Friday night treat and insist on giving the name “Seaman” for pick up—there’s nothing quite like hearing “Pizza for Seaman!” bellowed across a busy restaurant—to the countless times my friends would say “It’s OK to laugh” to the service person I had carefully pronounced (or spelled out) my name out to.
Over the years, it had grown on me. I was that person who was proud, if not cheeky, when saying it aloud. And back in grade school, I had imagined that when I would meet the love of my life, he would probably have a worse last name than mine. The Seaman name was, in my mind, a closed book.
Then I met Chris Reynolds, the man who is now my husband. He was no stranger to the Seaman mockery. Here’s how he first made contact with me: I was on a skiing trip in Tremblant when I received an odd text from a close friend. It read: “bahahahhaha. Seaman.” I initially thought she was having a sudden high school flashback, but when I asked her about it she explained that this “Chris” guy had stolen her phone at a bar and decided to text back on her behalf.
Fast-forward a year or so, and I meet Chris at a friend’s dinner party and immediately fall for him. It was only after a few dates that he told me he was that “Chris,” feeling no remorse whatsoever, his grin widening as I tried to act angry.
We had never talked about changing my name or really any traditions when we decided to get married. Though I had spoken to Chris about not wanting to hurt my father by changing my name, as I knew he cared deeply about it. On the flip side, I also felt like it was my choice and being presented with the option of becoming Erin Reynolds became more and more enticing. Oh, the days of wincing whenever I was asked for my full name would become a thing of the past! I could get vanity plates! I could have my name embossed on things and not seem like a perv! But I retracted the thought and tossed it aside until a few weeks before our wedding.
Then something just clicked. Chris and I had gone out to pick up my wedding band. Over dinner I just blurted it out: “I’ve been thinking, and I’m going to change my name.” Chris’s eyes welled up. He was totally surprised at his reaction, as much as I was. “I didn’t realize how much it meant to me, I guess,” he said.
I felt good about my decision. I told my family, knowing my dad would be upset. But he didn’t care after I told him that if Chris and I had kids they would have Chris’s last name. My dad did, however, seemed more pissed that my name would change on the FASHION masthead.
I guess what this boils down to is choice. And choice is what feminism means to me. The freedom to choose to take on a new name, or to be a new version of yourself (in my mind, Erin Reynolds is a classy lady who wears lace gloves and doesn’t have food in her hair all the time). Or the choice to keep your name regardless of marital status. I felt like a deeper bond was created between Chris and me that day when I told him I would become a Reynolds. I think there’s something deeply romantic about sharing a name, and I’ve got to admit, it’s the first time in my entire life that I’ve been able to say my name without hesitation.
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