a marge by any other name will still hate waiting rooms

The name Canty was always something I took pride in.

Cantys know how to work hard, live hard, love hard and play hard. Really hard.

Cantys are not afraid to speak their mind, are mostly intelligent, clever and extremely good looking (or, if not, funny enough to make up for it. You know who you are). They love St. Patrick’s day more than Christmas and any other reason at all to start drinking before noon. We are mostly fit up until around 35.

However, not being a feminist, famous writer (yet) or wanting to plan ahead for divorce, I gladly decided to take on Steven’s name, Shafer. It was a sign that I was all-in. That I was starting a new family. That we were now one, both in flesh and bank account statements.

Plus his family is amazing. And I wanted in.

Mr. and Mrs. Shafer. No hyphen necessary.

I thought if Prince could change his name to a symbol and Frank Zappa could name his daughter Moon Unit, than going from Shafer to Canty should be a fairly simple process.

So, going from the most to least important step in name changing, I started with Facebook. Obviously. It took a few tries but I was able to figure it out and within minutes everyone born after 1980 was able to see that I indeed was hitched.

I felt accomplished.

Next I figured was the driver’s license. Wrong. You cannot even begin the process with the DMV until they have the g0-ahead from the Social Security Administration. Which, if where you live is at all like Fort Collins, is in a secret hidden office with obscure hours and a security officer that checks your bag for explosives before you sit down to wait roughly two days in a small room with eight others who all together have enough teeth for one full set. When your number is called a woman in a dark cubicle separated from you by thick glass will ask for your card, id, marriage certificate, diary from eighth grade and the soul of your firstborn. And in turn, all they give you is permission to go to the DMV.

I had no idea name-changers were such a rough crowd.

But compared to the DMV the social security office was almost fun.

First you take a number. It is in the thousands so you assume they must have started at 999 or something. But then you notice that the sweaty 15-year-old next to you has number 25 and you realize you should have brought a book. After eight to 10 hours of reading teen magazines from the early ’90s you are helped by a transvestite and get confused about whether you should call him sir or ma’am. He answers to both. They give you what seems like an eye exam and you wonder if you’re in the right place.

After you pass that test, they take the worst photo of you ever and then make you sign your new name, which the last time you practiced was in the sand in Mexico and seemed a lot less urgent. You write it like a ten-year-old learning cursive for the first time and realize you have even more incentive never to get pulled over because this new ID will be more embarassing then your tenth grade permit, braces and zits considered.

And now, in just 30 days or so, you will have a new name. Easy as that.

When after all is said and done and waited and photographed, I still believe that becoming officially, legally part of your spouse’s family is worthwhile. It will limit hyphens in your children’s names, save you explanation time in the long-haul and make you feel more like a unit. At least in my two weeks of experience.

And what you’ll eventually realize is that you can take the girl out of the Cantys, but you can never take the Canty out of the girl.


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