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What I can't say to my future mother in law...

I have a "difficult" last name. It's long, has an interesting accent mark, and doesn't really flow smoothly off the tongue of a speakers of English only. As a family, we've Americanized it slightly.


An uncle changed the spelling, but most of us under 45 just pronounce it without the flourishes. Not that it helps. I, for my part, usually don't use my mom's last name and only use the 2nd part of mine.

People who have never seen a last name like it end up mangling it, it takes me 2 minutes to teach it to them and then they look put out.


Occasionally I get someone who tries to pronounce it, only to insist that I'm pronouncing it incorrectly and the Spanish way they're pronouncing it is right. I correct them, they say it wrong again, I correct them and we have a stand off until they pronounce it to my liking.

My real last name comes from the belly and the back of the mouth—my Americanized last name starts from the back of the mouth but then ends up on tip of your tongue.


To me, it's the difference between biting down on a still hot from the oil, hot sauce caked piece of torresmo and having some pre-cooked bacon by yourself while standing over a sink. It'll do in a pinch, but you're hungry for more.

Today, my kids found out I was getting married—apparently some of them suspected and didn't "wanna be all up in" my business. But, now that they know, they had no qualms jumping in with invasive questions:

How'd he propose?

When is it?

Who's going?

I've never been to an American wedding, can I come?

I have no cousins so never got to be a flower girl. I know I'm old, but look cute in a dress!


And then the one they probably felt would most impact their lives:

Will you change your name?

When I was a kid, I was convince I'd marry a guy with a kick ass name that would soon be mine. On my list were Falcão (falcon), Tubarão (shark and I don't think anyone is actually named this), and Miranda.


Better than mine, but still reflecting of my ethnicity. My serious boyfriends before the fiance didn't have the same ethnicity as me, but that was okay. Their names were distinct and out of the mainstream so I doubt anyone would have seen Jinxie _______ and been like "Oh, pardon, we were expecting...uh..."

My last name is the last name that was the only thing my great-grandpa had when he joined a whaling crew.


My last name was the only way my granddad could find his jackass dad who left him to take care of his mother and 5 siblings when he joined a whaling crew, moved to the US, and started a new family.

My last name is what gives my aunt her anger and the fact that everyone in the community knows not to cross her.


My last name is the best gift I could have ever gotten.

My fiance's name isn't like that. It's a very nice, very bland name that erases who I am. I'm light skinned, my eyes are hazel, and as much as I wished when I was a kid, I don't have afro-puffs.


Unless people stare directly at my nose and listen to me say things like "close the light", they assume I'm just tan, not the second generation of immigrants and certainly not a person of color.

I'm sure my last name has made my life a little more...interesting. People frequently assume I'm the Spanish teacher, eyes narrow and voices get louder like I don't speak English, and there's always the shit you over hear and have to confront when people assume you're white.


But that's me. That's who I am. And that's why I'll proudly remain with the name I was born with.

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