Why the hyphen?

 

My husband thinks I fell in love with him, but in actuality, I fell in love with his last name. My maiden name is often butchered, misspelled, letters added in the pronunciation (“RasmuNssen?”), etc. I’m not saying that my husband’s good looks didn’t catch my eye, but the fact that his last name was simple made him more attractive.

Therefore, upon our betrothment (Google and my computer disagree on whether or not this is a real word), I immediately knew that I would just use my husband’s last name. After living 28ish years with an already long maiden name (which never, ever fits on any documentation), I had no intentions of making it worse by being Christy Danielle Rasmussen-Ford. No thanks. Christy Ford sounded perfect.

Then, tragedy struck; I got offered my own humor column in the Forks Forum. The column was/is not the tragedy … not usually anyway. No, the tragedy was that no one in Forks knew who Christy Ford was. I had only ever been known as Christy Rasmussen.

Where’s the tragedy in that? Well, picture this … A person starts writing columns for the Forks Forum and says things like, “You can’t exactly dig up dirt on people here. The entire town knows everyone’s business from birth to date.” … or … “I realize that it’s hard to have Forks taken seriously as a bustling town when we only have one stoplight.” … or … “They will inevitably ask my expert advice on what to do in the area. The popular thing to do is cruise back and forth between the grocery store and the gas station at the other end of town.”

Now, let’s say the person saying these things is not from Forks. How well would my jokes have gone over?

When I first got offered the column-writing job, I told my husband, “I have to use Christy Rasmussen as my name for the column.” “Why?” he asked. “People are not going to recognize Christy Ford.” “So?” “So, no one is going to laugh if they think I’m an outsider. It will only be funny to them if I am a long-term-er. If I’m a short-term-er, everyone will hate me.”

My solution was to hyphenate and then to drop the Rasmussen once everyone figured it all out. For whatever reason, I never dropped the Rasmussen. Now, three years later, I think I’m stuck with it.

The point of all of this was to tell a story about a woman who was a Forks long-time-er, but who became a mover-away-er a while ago. She wrote to me, telling me that my column used to tick her off because she is fiercely loyal to this town and does not put up with anyone talking bad it. But then she realized that I was a long-timer and suddenly found it very funny.

For better or worse, that’s how it goes. We can talk and joke all day long about our hometown, but no one else can. We’re like one big family … metaphorically and literally.

For questions, comments or to settle the debate on the validity of “betrothment,” please e-mail me at [email protected]