Twenty years after I was born a Brooks, I became a Wilson in one of those happy-ever-after fantasies that didn't quite work out the way I had planned.
But Wilson was a nice name, and eminently preferable to Brooks (which in Afrikaans means underpants or knickers and led to horrible teasing at school) and I quite enjoyed it. It was one of those anonymous names that everyone could spell and I liked the fact that it was totally normal at first look, but had a secret history. The great grandfather of the Mr Wilson I married had emigrated from somewhere near Moscow to the US and like so many others with unpronouncable or "difficult" names (I think it was Tobinofsky) he was given another one. One of the legends is that Wilson was chosen from the phone book, another is that he particularly admired a Wilson (couldn't have been Harold).
So, for the next 25 years or so, I built my name and reputation as the journalist Lynne Wilson ... until I met and married my new happy-ever-after man (for real this time). He was perfect in every way, except for for the fact that his surname wasn't Wilson.
For the first couple of years, he put up with being referred to as Mr Wilson at functions or meetings, but I could see he was unhappy so when I started my own company a few years ago, I decided to drop the Wilson and become Lynne Smit.
Problem solved? Not quite.
Now I'm met with people who, after speaking to me for a while say things like "Oh, you're Lynne Wilson... I thought she had died" or "I wondered what happened to her" and in some situations I am more likely to get work if people know who I was, rather than who I am.
(In the last, particularly awful years of my first marriage I began only using my first name, but beaurocracy made that totally impractical).
So, what to do?
I decided to add the Wilson to my email signature so that people would know who I was, but that was complicated in itself. I couldn't say "nee Wilson" because it wasn't a maiden name (even though Mr Wilson seemed to believe that me and Mary were sisters in the immaculate conception thing, especially when it came to child maintenance). So I decided to put (previously Wilson) in brackets after my name.
Problem solved, or so I thought.
After coming home from holiday to over 600 emails, I decided to cut down on some of my newsletter subscriptions and, very reluctantly, included IRIN in the purge. Unusually, I recieved a reply from a real person, who then went on to ask me what "previously Wilson" meant. Turns out she thought I was being terribly brave and had had a sex change.
Now, while I love the thought of being terribly brave (mostly because I am much braver in thought than in deed) I am left with a new dilemma.
How many of my clients and contacts meet me and think "yoh! those sex change drugs really add on the curves."
How many are surreptitiously looking for my Adam's apple?
So now I am appealing to you...any suggestions? Please??