February 3, 2008

Casper & Me

It has recently come to my attention that my maiden name is also a racial slur. I don't know if I'm just really that naive, in serious denial, or totally out if it-- probably a bit of all three-- but even after walking around with it for thirty-six years, I still had no idea.

I was googling my name one day, a little self-esteem booster I like to enjoy every so often, when I discovered some sort of rappy song lyrics using my name as an epithet. How rude, as my cousin Krista used to say-- actually, she said "How wude," as she was only three years old.

I asked R if he was aware that my name was used in this manner, and he all but said, "duh."

Just in case there might have been some grevious mistake I looked up casper in the urban dictionary, and there it was next to honkey. Foiled again.

Here's the thing: I love my last name. It's Dutch, originally from the Persian Caspar, and it means treasurer. One of the three wise men was named Casper, I'm told. One of my ancestors was present at the birth of Jesus, and even though I have some real issues with the guy, that's fairly incredible. Also, there's the happy little ghost. What's not to like about him?

The first time I got married, I gave up my last name and took his-- also a perfectly lovely and distinguished last name. Then when that marriage didn't work out so well, I regretted the decision and swore it wouldn't happen again.

Then I met R, and when we decided to try the whole marriage thing he was quite adamant that we have the same last name, but I had given up my name once before, and it just didn't feel good. After much haggling we agreed to take each other's last names.

So, when I found out that my name has this other connotation I was horrified and briefly considered changing names, but then I thought about how R agreed to take my last name when he knew all along that it was slang for whitey. Not only that, but he also knew that almost every man he met for the rest of his life was going to harrass him mercilessly for taking his wife's last name, and he took it anyway because he loves me. It makes me feel all mooshy inside. If he can take the harrassment, I can handle the knowledge.

Besides, in time I'm sure the connotation will fade, and my descendents will not have to worry at this dilemma. Also, I am aware that there are worst names to bear; I went to school with a well-endowed young woman whose name was Titsworth.

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