Last names


I was in Boston doing some research these past two days. Stayed with Liz Monaghan and Ed Thompson, who are getting married in a few months.

I asked Liz today whether she was planning on changing her name. She said that indeed she was. I consider Monaghan-for-Thompson to be a pretty even trade—the Larry Johnson for Anthony Mason of name swaps. Alas, most are significantly more one-sided. My wife was Catherine Guggenheimer. I consider Pearlman—while far from the Thompson of names—a huge upgrade. My mom, once Joan Herz, now Joan Pearlman, made enormous gains. Not since 1967 has anyone asked about her Uncle Dick. My friend Laura Fasbach, also a journalist, married a Donovan. That’s a brilliant swap—Delino for Pedro-esque.

But, really, one must be careful. I would say my friend with the best pre-marriage last name was Rebecca Tollen, a reporter based out of San Francisco. For my ears, Tollen is perfect—smooth, easily spoken and spelled, not overly common, but not weird, doesn’t rhyme with any body parts. However, a few years ago Rebecca married. Her husband is Roberto Nhuch. He’s a great guy—cool, Brazilian. I’m sure, in Portuguese. ‘Nhuch’ means “Wonderful person with wings of gold.” But it ain’t Tollen—not even close. (That said, it can be worse. I have a second cousin. His name is Arthur. His last name is Baer. His wife’s first name is Benji. I don’t know her maiden name, but she goes by Benji Baer.

Hey, Boo Boo …

8 thoughts on “Last names”

  1. Love your Last Name piece. I’m a devote Democrat with Bush as a last name. I remarried and after reading your article have decided to take my husband’s name, Johnson. Lynda Bush trading up to Lynda Johnson! Thanks Jeff

  2. great piece. There’s always the option of both people taking both names- Liz Monaghan-Thompson and Ed Monaghan-Thompson. But after a couple generations of that, everybody’s name would be like Dikembe Mutumbo’s.

  3. Pearlman! Thanks for the nod about my name! I love it too. So much that, although I believe in the tradition of changing your name when you marry, I never did. I’m still Tollen. Although my family sends me mail addressed Rebecca Nhuch!

  4. Oh! And I have friends that called me Tollen before I got married and now alternate between Tollen and Nhuchie. I guess you can have your cake and eat it too!

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