On the same day I was in the coffee shop, I had been listening to the radio. Much attention was being given to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. During one particular broadcast, one of the interviewees offered the following bit of trivia: “Did you know that Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was Moon?”
Maiden name? MAIDEN NAME? I had a sudden flashback.
I was transported back 25 years. It was during the summer, and I was participating in a war-games exercise with the navy. I was working in an operations centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Most of the personnel assigned to this particular centre were reservists.
Many of the people with whom I stood watch were new acquaintances. Of course, as the 2-week exercise progressed, we became more familiar with each other. There was a female office who was older than me. She also outranked me. During a particular conversation it suddenly occurred to me that she was married to another office, with whom I was familiar.
“Oh, so you are married to Capt Bloggins.”
“Yes. That’s right.”
“ I didn’t know that. So Smith is your maiden name.”
“Maiden name? MAIDEN NAME? IT’S MY NAME.” She then went on to explain how she was offended by the fact that her surname had to be qualified as being that of a maiden. She wasn’t happy. Verbally, she ripped my head off. I also realized that she was probably exercising her I-outrank-you muscles, a common phenomenon in the military.
Anyway, this proved to be somewhat of a significant emotional event for me. As a result, and ever since that day, I have avoided using the M word in that context:
“ I didn’t know that. So Smith is your family name.”
Consequently, I have never had to reattach my head; well, not for that anyway.
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