When people ask me why my last name is so complicated, I explain that my parents were all about equality when they were first planning on getting married.
They wanted every aspect of their marriage to be equal, so after proposing to each other on the vernal equinox (equal hours of light and darkness), they decided that a hyphenated name was only logical. It would represent the balanced relationship that they wanted their union to be.
In some ways, I love my unique surname. It reflects both sides of my family, each so important in my formation. And it is so distinctly us.
There are Johnsons, Browns, even Scobeys and Polachecks, scattered throughout the world, but there are
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only six Scobey-Polachecks. The name is as distinctive and unorthodox as our family.
But the quirkiness and well-meant symbolic intentions of “Scobey-Polacheck” can be quickly overshadowed by its inconvenience.
Despite being a relatively clever kindergartener, my mom had to compose a jingle to help me remember how to spell the 15-letter monstrosity of a last name. Any time I had to spell out my name for some poor guy working retail, I felt obligated to give him a disclaimer (“OK, so it’s hyphenated . . .”) or else face the all-too-familiar look of utter confusion.
I’d be exaggerating if I said this has been anything more than the tiniest annoyance in my life – standardized tests not having enough bubbles for my complete name hardly qualifies as struggle – but I have found the slight burden of this five-syllable attachment to my name irksome enough to consider actually making a change. I don’t want to hold on to these annoyances into adulthood.
When I started to consider dropping part of my name, I knew that I would have to keep the “Scobey.” Ever since high school, my friends have latched onto the first half of my name, giving me any thinkable nickname that could stem from it: Scobey, Scobe, Scobester, Scoob, Jacobey, etc.
My friends at college took up where my high school buddies left off. If it weren’t for Facebook, I’m not sure some of my current friends would even know what my first name is.
So, despite it being customary to take the name of the father, I’ve begun to phase the Polacheck out. I introduce myself as Jacob Scobey and use that name for most informal situations. It’s simple, it’s practical and it’s easy on the ears. My mom and I joke that Scobey could be the name for a ride at a carnival – it just has a happy tone.
Part of me is going to miss the full, hyphenated name. My transition into adulthood is not only accompanied by the loss of many of the perks of being a child, but also the loss of half of my name.
As much as the lone “Scobey” seems like a more practical fit for me in the future, my parents, siblings and I will always be the Scobey-Polachecks. Scobey, though convenient and phonetically pleasing, still seems a little naked without the Polacheck. Incomplete.
I have to disagree with Shakespeare’s Juliet … there is something in a name: history.
I will be the same person whether I sign my papers with Scobey, Scobey-Polacheck, or something else entirely, but Scobey-Polacheck has a meaning of its own.
It conjures memories of 18 years of eating, playing, working and living with the only five people on the planet that I can call my family. And no matter what I call myself, the name will never die. I’m Jacob Scobey (that’s S-C-O-B-E-Y) and I’m a Scobey-Polacheck.
(Jacob, the eldest of the four Scobey-Polacheck children, is a freshman at the University of Notre Dame.)