Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Which One Are You Again?

There's an issue I want to talk about that same sex couples face, one that sadly fails to gain much attention because we don't let it happen in fiction.

I refer, of course, to the issue over names.

When I was in college, I had a friend named Beth. In due course of time, Beth had a girlfriend. Named Beth. BethnBeth, as we called them, were both blondes of roughly the same height and weight, both sporting short hair. Adorable, I know, but picture yourself in this conversation:

"Hey, Beth was looking for you."

"Which Beth?"


It would never do in those days of radical feminism to declare Beth (my initial friend) as butcher than Beth, her girlfriend, lest you be accused of gender stereotyping and antediluvian role assignment, but in fact, "butcher" was about the only differentiation between BethnBeth that could be accomplished in fewer words than would make up a five-page essay, one-inch margins, double-spaced for my Intro to Feminism class.

Now over the course of my life, I have met opposite-sex couples named Don and Donna, Dean and Deanna, and even Bobby and Bobbie, but they have a fairly uncomplicated way to differentiate, relying on words such as male and female. And it's not just same-sex couples with the same name like BethnBeth. My wife and I both have names that start with the K sound (if not the same letter). Many people who meet us as a couple say with an apologetic grimace, "Which one were you again?"

When I was working on Life, Over Easy, which is set on a college campus that may or may not be the one still hosting the evil intergalactic bureaucracy that conferred my assorted degrees, I couldn't help but remember my old friends BethnBeth. As the John in the book starts his new life, he acquires a group of friends, one of them a couple named Gavin and Garrett. For the rest of the book, John cannot tell them apart. I made them both blonds, of equal height and weight. Somehow I think Beth—and Beth, who parted ways not long after presenting us with that fascinating name game, would be amused.

This just in: Thanks to hard work and the correct application of the U.S. Constitution, a TomnTom or a BethnBeth can look forward to equal protection under the law, at least in California. I'm no good with graphics, but insert a burst of confetti and popping champagne corks here (in your mind's eye will do nicely.)


M Jules Aedin said...

*laugh* Your Gavin and Garrett reminded me of my friends Justin and Jason, though they were brunets instead of blonds, who later split up, and Justin went on to date Matthew and Jason went on to date Matt... not the same person, but both in the student government of our campus GSA... *giggles*

Tam said...

Yeah, that could be a fun addition to a book, two guys with the same name.

Where I used to live there was a large Mennonite community and Friesen was a very common last name. One woman managed to save some money on the name change thing by marrying a guy with the same last name. (No relation I'm assuming LOL.)

Ally Blue said...

LOL. Man, I really, REALLY want to read Life, Over Easy. I love that your guy can't tell tell Gavin and Garrett apart *g*

Hey, I never even got to see your wife at RWA! I feel like I missed more people than I saw this year.

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