Mr Green?’ There is an awkward silence until the boyfriend realises the waiter is addressing him. We are on holiday and he is being presented with a bill for the poolside G&Ts and preposterously expensive salty snacks.
The boyfriend is not called Mr Green, obviously, but my part-time gig as a hotel reviewer means bookings are made in my name, so he gets referred to by the aforementioned moniker. In the beginning he corrected the hotel staff, but now he just accepts it and signs.
Does it offend his male pride? Well, if there’s any degree of discomfort, it’s considerably mollified by the gratis trip to a five-star hotel. Because the job of hotel reviewer’s companion is an even cushier gig than that of hotel reviewer. While I have to take photos and write it up (is your heart bleeding yet?), he just has to comment on the gym (his area of expertise) and provide sparkling company. Like a truck driver’s mate, but more luxurious.
All of this made me think about the importance of names in relationships. And what changing your name – or not – when you get married signifies. These thoughts have been brought to the fore by Brooklyn Beckham and Nicola Peltz merging their names at their recent nuptials. They are now Mr and Mrs Peltz Beckham.
In my social circle wives have double-barrelled their surnames with their husbands’, or done so for their children, but never has a man taken his wife’s name.
I think making their names Peltz Beckham is enlightened; the boyfriend thinks it’s weird.
He’s all for a woman taking her husband’s name, saying it shows commitment, and makes for a stronger family unit. He also says that getting married is a fairly outdated concept, so if you are going to sign up to it, you might as well embrace all its traditions and adopt your husband’s name for the sake of unifying clans.
I’m not that bothered one way or the other. I recognise that walking up the aisle, getting married in church and wearing a veil is patriarchal and old fashioned ‒ and I did all those things because I wanted to. But I didn’t change my name when I got married.
Except for on The White Company’s database and the school register for the kids. These were both environments where I wanted to be viewed as a proper grown-up. Someone who might have hand towels in the downstairs loo. Hell, someone who even had a downstairs loo to put hand towels in.
I’m not saying it’s rational.
My daughter tells me that when her teacher got married she and her husband chose an entirely new surname: Darcy. She thinks her teacher was influenced by her love of Pride and Prejudice – or Bridget Jones, my daughter’s not sure which.
I can see the appeal of this. If I were to do the same I would become Ferrari, Rothschild, Windsor or similar, to increase my chances of being greeted with obsequious behaviour on planes and in banks. But I don’t think I could be bothered with the paperwork.
The only times I regret remaining a Green is when I wish I had the same surname as my children. I worry in case we get separated – especially in an emergency. Overthinker? Me?
Last time we all flew together, we went through passport control and the customs officer, after seeing our different surnames, said directly to them, ‘And who did you fly with today?’
He gave me a look as if to say, ‘Do not answer on their behalf’, which was agony because you never know what kids are going to say. I waited for what felt an interminably long time before my son said: ‘British Airways.’