Friday, June 24th, 2011 • 2 Comments on Go Read Me at the Grip!
The theme this week is fathers, but my new column at Oh Get a Grip! has more to do with my complicated history and maybe helps explain why I’m so adamant about using my “real” name:
I wanted to go on the 6th grade trip to Mexico. That’s how it started. In order to go to Mexico, I needed a passport—which I didn’t have. In order to get a passport, I needed a birth certificate—which I did have. Problem was, the birth certificate I had did not bear the same name that I was using. If I got a passport under the name on the birth certificate, school officials would know I was using a different name. My friends would know. Their parents would know. It would have been scandalous, I guess.
This was back in the day when you didn’t have to show documentation to enroll your kid in school. Or maybe that was just life in Florida in the 70s—a nod to the migrant workers who weren’t in the country legally. You also didn’t have to have a Social Security card until you started working. I guess my mother assumed I wouldn’t have to prove who I was until I was at least a teenager and she’d deal with it then—but then I asked to go on the Mexico trip.
That was how I ended up in a courtroom at the age of 11, telling a judge about life with my parents so I could get my name changed. I ended up with a new birth certificate that bore the name I’d been using since I was 9 months old. Of course, to get there, I had to listen to my mother answer the judge’s question about who my birth father was: “I don’t know.”
It was a lie.