My husband has a really long name in the Spanish tradition. There is a first name; usually a middle name, a father’s last name and they append the mom’s maiden name. So while 4 names isn’t a lot, it can be hard to get them straight when different names are used in different scenarios.
During his youth, he went by one name – a name that his family and childhood friends use and by which they refer to him. In most of these situations it was a derivation on his middle name. When he came to the States for his associate’s degree and later for college, he referred to himself by his first name.
When I met my husband, he said his name was his middle name - His full middle name, no diminutives or nicknames – just his middle name in Spanish. We then got to know each other via emails. He signed all his emails with ‘Memo’. The first few times I scratched my head wondering why the word ‘memo’ was at the bottom of his notes. Was there a memorandum attached that wasn’t inadvertently forgotten? After a few instances of this, I asked him why he signed off in that manner. He explained that Memo was the diminutive of his middle name. It was what his family and friends called him. I guessed at that point, he felt comfortable enough to allow me to call him that or it was the name he was used to most.
Over time my husband found out my middle name. He used this name to introduce me to his family and friends. Now, my middle name was chosen at confirmation time as mostly a way for me to finally get another name from the one with which I was born. I only had one first name, no middle names and a surname at birth. Confirmation was a cool and legitimate way for me to put an additional twist on my identity. Absolutely NO ONE called me by that name up to the point of my picking it out and my getting called that by my in-laws and my husband’s friends. It was used so infrequently, as a matter of fact, that even my mom later in life didn’t realize it was my middle name.
At one point my two worlds converged, my in-laws calling me Monica and everyone else calling me by my usual name. One of my friends then asked my husband ‘Who is Monica?’ He, then, had to explain the two name usage. Of course, she said ‘I didn’t even know that was her middle name!’ The reason she didn’t know this is because I NEVER USED THAT NAME BEFORE. In his way, my husband was branding me in the Spanish way, perhaps. I don’t fully know why he decided on this appellation. It’s now the custom with his family. That, my friends, is how you gain a new name. And everyone knows that customs are hard to break.