Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I said "u," not "o"

Velma and I have occasionally discussed a few of the many sticky issues involved in having kids. Perhaps a telling look at how cursory our discussions have been so far is the fact that we've talked at least a couple times about the challenge of what last name they should have.

What? Are there other more important things to discuss about having kids?

Let's face it. Saddling a little 'un with the last name Bult could be considered child abuse. And c'mon, the last name Gentzsch has enough consonants to write a short story and only one vowel!

Both our last names, over the years, have been slaughtered in pronunciation by people who claimed a certain level of (presumably higher) education, such as teachers or other authority figures. I've been called everything from "built" to "butt," and of course the most popular choice being "bolt." How anyone looking at four simple letters with only a single vowel can pronounce it as anything other than "bult" has always baffled me.

Gentzsch seems as simple to me as Bult. I mean, sound it out, people! What else can it be? Absurdly, I still find immense joy in the fact that someone once pronounced it "giznatch."

But, seeing as how traumatizing it can be in 7th grade summer school to be called "Mark Butt" during the first-day roll-call by your (apparently either sight-challenged or retarded) typing teacher, it seems rather unfair to set up one's progeny for the same embarrassment. Not to mention poor little Clara Giznatch.

Strangely, Velma and I both have a certain strange pride in our last names. Her more than me, I would say. When I was 19 or so, I actually considered changing it to something like Black, so at least I could stop having to spell it constantly to people over the phone. "Bult. Mark Bult. B-u-l-t. No, I said 'u,' not 'o'."

No one ever asks you to spell a last name like Black.

More recently, I've decided there are certain advantages to having a name like Bult. Ever googled yourself? Do you have a common name or an odd one? When I try looking up old friends I've lost touch with, it's impossible to find anyone with a common name like Dave Wise. But if someone were trying to find Mark Bult, that's easy.

This has obvious benefits when you're in business for yourself. "Who designed your website?" "Mark Bult." "How do I get ahold of him?" "Oh, just google him." I suppose it's less good when you're on the FBI's Most Wanted List and would rather blend into the crowd. (Luckily, I don't need to worry about that. Anymore.)

What Velma spent the most time discussing was actually what to do about the child's last name. We both dislike (I was going to write "despise," because I do, but I can't speak for Velma -- I'm not sure if she despises it as much as I do) the paternalistic pattern of showing lineage for only the male, i.e. giving the child the father's name. It makes equally little sense to give the child only the mother's last name.

The idea of hyphenating the last name appeals to me the most, but is imperfect at best. What do the children do if they get married and have kids? Pile on more hyphenated last names? Hello, allow me to introduce Clara Bult-Gentzsch-Jones-Hoeffler.

Anyway, all this is why I found this (very long -- like New Yorker length) discussion on MetaFilter interesting. Of course, it brought up even more issues I hadn't even considered yet.

And no, we're not thinking of naming our daughter Clara.


Blogger velma said...

Despise is correct for how I feel about the patriarchal system.

How bout we give boys middle name = Gentzsch with last name = Bult and girls middle name = Bult with last name = Gentzsch?

5/19/2005 08:02:00 PM


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