As I began recently to write a memoir about my life’s journey, my thoughts turned to how many times a woman changes her name. I’ve had a moniker for each stage of my life. Most of us start out in this world with two names as did I: Aggie, my nickname that my family called me from birth; and a baptismal designate, Mary Agnes Jordan. The latter is still the handle on my driver’s license, tax returns, social security account, and bank statements. Well, not quite – the credit cards drop the middle name.
I also had a confirmation name, Christina, which I have never used. Then I joined the convent and I got a nun’s title, Sister M. Clara. I was no longer a person with a family. Officially I was just a nun with no past.
In the late 1960s, my convent named changed back to my family name for a short time but with Sister still preceding it. When I left the convent, I dropped the Sister. By the way, all these arenames on various official documents. No aliases. Or were they?
Then in 1974, I married Robert DeLaurenti and, like many women, I wondered: should I change my name to my husband’s name? I had not made up my mind, but the company I was working for in Orlando changed it for me. I soon got a paycheck with DeLaurenti. They even sent in a change to the Feds, so soon I had a social security card with that name on it, too. I was not happy. I wanted my name back, so I filled out all that paperwork to tell the Feds that it was all a big mistake. Done. I was back to my original name.
Shortly after we moved to Texas and I started my training company, I hired a lawyer who decided we should name the company Jordan-DeLaurenti, Inc. And further, I should hyphenate my name. Hyphenation was the thing then in the late 70s, so I went along with it. Eventually even the company took on a nickname, or a logo name, J-DL, Inc.
For 21 years, I wrote a name with 26 strokes, Mary Agnes Jordan-DeLaurenti. Imagine signing that on checks! Of course, when I sold my company I dissed that epithet and officially took back my birth name.
It didn’t take long, though, before I had another name, a nom de plume. Broadway Books made it official, They put Aggie Jordan, Ph.D. on the cover of The Marriage Plan. I’m not even sure it’s legitimate to tag Ph.D. to a nickname, but they did it.
So how many names have you had officially? If you are a male, probably one, or maybe two, unless you’re in the witness protection program. But if you’re female and have married more than once, you definitely have a line of tags.
I wonder if the FBI has an accounting of all my various names with change dates? I know the IRS seems to be able to find me. When I was a protesting nun during the Vietnam War and a graduate student, I refused to pay the Federal phone tax because it was set up to fund the Vietnam War. The IRS did eventually catch up with me.
One good thing about having a number of names is, when I get those marketing calls that ask, “Is Mary there?”, I truthfully just say, “Sorry. Nobody here by that name.” If they don’t ask for Aggie, I don’t want to talk to them.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.