The Home Team: The new Mr. & Mrs. H
Published 6:17 am, Saturday, June 27, 2015
Our middle son Greg got married in Montauk last weekend to Kelly, his beautiful bride and my brand-new daughter-in-law. Needless to say, it brought back, with a rush, memories of another wedding.
When Carol and I got married, circa 1750, she opted to take my last name as hers. She wasn’t making a statement. She wasn’t being devoted. The choice was purely pragmatic: She’d suffered 20 years with the less-than-euphonic last name of “Korngut,” and felt that “Herman” was a step up. (Carol’s own mother, may she rest in peace, went from her maiden name of “Kornblau” to her married name, “Korngut.” She became Regina Kornblau Korngut. I’m not making this up.)
Since we got married at the height of the peace-and-love years, most of our hippie colleagues were going in another direction on this name thing. My best friend Jeff’s wife, Joan, took the hyphenated route: Joan Fox-Kirsch. Their daughters became Katie and Maggie Fox-Kirsch. I found myself projecting this out: If Katie Fox-Kirsch married, oh, let’s say Joshua Laird-Jones, would their kid be called Henry Fox-Kirsch-Laird-Jones? And when he had kids, would those kids be called ... The whole thing became dizzying.
But, as I’m sure most of you with kids in the 25-to-35 age range have noticed, there’s been a swing back to the traditional and the romantic in the marriage game. Today’s grooms-to-be call on the bride’s father to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. (I didn’t. If I had, I’d have gotten the thumbs-down, in no uncertain terms. Another story.) They go out and purchase expensive engagement rings. (No self-respecting hippie did that.) They compete to see who can choreograph the most outrageous setting in which to get down on one knee and pop the question. Then they take off on dramatic, exotic honeymoons. (Carol and I went skiing in Vermont.)
Sometimes these elaborately planned engagement and wedding scenarios go off the rails. The aforementioned Jeff’s future son-in-law, Philip, decided to have his dog Nolan, a beagle-mix, carry the engagement ring to Maggie, his bride-to-be. Nolan, however, caught a scent, and went dashing off through their hilly suburban Virginia neighborhood — with Philip, Jeff and other family members in hot pursuit.
But back to the last name thing. While so many women in my generation stuck with their own last name or chose the hypenation option, our Kelly went from “Kelly Smith” to “Kelly Herman” without a moment’s hesitation. I asked her about this, and she told me that after 30 years of being a Smith, it was time for a change.
I thought this over. It’s not like Smith is an unmelifluous name, like Korngut. On the other hand, it is the most common last name in America. (According to Mongabay.com, one out of every 100 people in the U.S. has the last name Smith. There are 2,501,922 Smiths in this country.) Kelly herself has 32 Smith first cousins. Her Smith clan has its own Facebook page, for God’s sake! Maybe she just wanted a little differentiation from the pack.
Whatever the case, late Saturday night, long after the ceremony, and the cocktails, and the dinner-and-reception, and the cake-cutting, the photographer came around, asking loudly for “Mr. and Mrs. Herman.” I automatically snapped to attention: That meant Carol and Hank, I assumed. She said Mr. and Mrs. Herman, didn’t she? But no. She was looking for Kelly and Greg.
Kelly and Greg Herman. I liked the sound of it.
“The Home Team” appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with Hank’s adventures on his blog, “Beagle Man,” http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman, on the Westport News website. To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.