The most interesting part of getting married at a later age is the name change. I decided to take Husband’s last name and thought it wouldn’t be a big deal. Everyone was just going to have to deal.
Another LBB (late bloomer bride) told me right before I got married, “whatever you do, change your social security number first, then the driver’s license!” (She hadn’t and it apparently was “too difficult to talk about.”)
So, I began The Process. Step one, get a copy of your marriage certificate. With the official seal. Head over to Kinkos and make about 500 copies. You’re gonna need ‘em. I was married three years ago and I still have a file on my desk titled “name change” containing nothing but copies of my marriage certificate. I fax them out like party favors. What? You have me under what name? Well, here. Have a marriage certificate.
Step two of The Process. Make sure your new name is associated with your social security number. You must do this in person. So, one day, now ready to engage The Process, I trudged up to the SSN office. I had everything with me – old SSN card, drivers’ license, officially sealed copy of the marriage certificate. I had even downloaded and completed the forms in advance. With just one other person there, I was able to breeze up to the window and present paperwork. The SSN frau looked at my over her glasses. She slid my sacred offerings closer to her. She signed the form, stamped something, and printed out some new paperwork. You’ll get your new card in the mail within 2 weeks. That was it.
Well, I thought, this is going to be a snap.
So, I headed over to the DMV. The lines were longer. The people were more harassed. But, even getting my new license took all of 20 minutes.
Step three in The Process is to change your name at the bank. Now this is where it gets dicey. What no one ever tells you is that once your driver’s license is handled and then the bank, you will now need to alert the 360 other organizations to the grand news in record speed. This includes, in no particular order: retirement funds, credit card companies, phone companies, frequent flyer accounts, clients (very important), gas company, passport, and everyone else in the world. You must do this immediately because nothing else in your life matches your driver’s license or the bank. And, if the new checks don’t arrive quickly, you go to the grocery story with J-labeled checks trying to get by on an H-labeled license. Just try to get the cheerleader behind the checkout counter to understand that the J and H are the same gal. Ain’t gonna happen.
Even the dry cleaners I had been going to for more than 3 years wouldn’t let me write a check while my driver’s license said I was an H . Heaven forbid I walk out with someone else’s super starched shirts.
Going to vote, however, was different. I got in the H line only to be shunted over to the J line, ’cause, yep, that’s where I was listed – old-maiden-name-J. The very nice elderly pollster called over “Big John” (I am not kidding) to see what to do. Just let her vote, he said. I began waving my license and my marriage certificate, but he just waved them away. Just fill out a name change form on your way out, he said nonchalantly. Ms. Nice Elderly Lady just smiled. I walked to the poll and cast my vote. I filled out the name change form and once again asked if someone, anyone, wanted to see my license or my dog-earned copy of the marriage certificate. Nope. You just signed your name under the statement said, under penalty of the law, you were telling the truth about who you were, said Big John.
Well, someone alert the dry cleaners.