“Oh, I never bother to remember the last names of my brothers’ girlfriends,” one of my future sisters-in-law airily informed me. “They just change them anyway.”
Well, I was darned if I was going to be the sixth Mrs. Kilmer. When relatives visited, it was already confusing enough directing incoming phone calls at the house—“Which Mr./Mrs. Kilmer do you want?” Often, the caller didn’t even realize that there were several of them. Besides, my brother’s wife and all my female friends who had gotten married had retained their maiden names; why shouldn’t I?
Jonathan had a different idea. He wanted us to have the same last name, just as his friend Jennifer Taylor-Ide and her husband did. In a huff, I asked him if he intended to change his name to a hyphenated name, too. “Of course,” he replied, looking at me as if I’d asked him if two plus two made four. “Otherwise, what’s the point?”
Even today, though, some people don’t understand that my
last name is really, truly Hunter-Kilmer. Surely it’s Kilmer, right? I must not
know my last name, I guess. Until Patrick was married, my stock answer was
this: “No. It’s Hunter-Kilmer. It goes under the Hs. My husband’s last name is
Hunter-Kilmer. The kids’ last name is Hunter-Kilmer. The dogs’ last name is
Hunter-Kilmer.” That makes people laugh, and they put down my last name as I
had originally told them.
|The Hunter-Kilmers before any of them changed their name|
Sometimes people want to know which was my maiden name. Just in case they are then going to assume that my last name is actually Kilmer, I tell them it doesn’t matter. I’ve had this last name since 1979. “But which name is it, really?” “Oh, I wouldn’t want to confuse you. My last name is really Hunter-Kilmer.” I smile to take the edge off.
Other people want to know what our children would do when they got married. What if they married somebody with a hyphen and became something like Hunter-Kilmer-von Lawick-Goodall? Jonathan and I figured that that was their problem. We didn’t care if the name of Hunter-Kilmer survived into the next generation, anyway.
Of course, our children thought that hyphenation was a terrible idea, and they all had plans to change their last name. Patrick took
his wife’s last name. Rosie took Hill, her husband’s last name—which was
actually more rebellious than what Patrick did, given our family.
The two single children are apparently too lazy to change their last names as they said they would. Timmy intends to take his wife’s name when he marries. “But what if she wants your last name?” “She can’t have it!”
Fortunately, the dogs don’t mind. Maybe they’ll be the last Hunter-Kilmers.