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I was given a three-part name at birth: my first name was/is a traditional woman's name on my mother's side. The second name was a family name associated with certain characteristics; I fit right in. My last name was my biological father's. The questionnaires call this my "maiden" name, an expression that always gives me pause. Lots of implications in that word maiden.

My adoptive father never gave me his last name--the issue never came up--since it was Insalaco, I'm just as glad. Can you imagine trying to spell it for people who are only marginally literate but hold down a job requiring them to take messages accurately? Or fill out forms?

When I turned 30 I realized that I no longer considered my biological father as anything more than a sperm donor and I dropped his name. So legally I became my mother's daughter, going by the first two names. The name suited me to a "T" in more ways than one.

My first husband kept his name, though I offered to let him use my surname instead of his if he wanted it.

My second and last husband? Well, I appended his last name to mine as a gesture of solidarity and support. He took it to translate to ownership and control. As the pater familias, he knew what was best for both of us and intended to control the money and make all the major decisions. I could choose which color I wanted the kitchen painted, off white or eggshell.

Yeah. You know that arrangement has been modified in the 15 years since the beginning. It's been a rough ride, baby, but an instructive one.

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