It's rare that I ever get hit with a wave of panic in the middle of a good book and Caesar salad, but then again my mother had always been rather unpredictable. The phone began blaring at me in the middle of the cafe patio and not in a place or with reason to ignore the call, I picked up.
"Hey mom," I said without giving away the fact that I was still reading my kindle. "What's up?"
"Are you planning on changing your name?"
"What?" the tone was enough to make me stop reading but the question is what arrested me. "Name? What do you mean?" I said knowing full well what she meant.
"Are you changing your last name after the wedding?" she reiterated knowing that I knew what she meant.
I had been giving a lot of thought to the subject recently. My name and my identity and whether I was ready or even willing to change it. It doesn't seem like much of a matter at first, it's just a name after all and the names of bridges, people, and places change all the time. Look at Ceylon and Stefani Joanna Angelina Germanotta. I mean, they changed their names and they seem do be doing much better for it.
Yet, just like that old pair of jeans you've had since college and you swear every season you're going to replace when it comes time to toss them out a name, you realize, is something you've been with far too long. You've worn it in. It fits you not just right, but perfectly. It's a skin. Part of who you are to the world. You can't possibly imagine parting with it.
I've been a McCord for all my life. I like being a McCord. I love being a McCord. I've never been much into genealogy but I know that my name has a history in a storefront in Missouri on the Oregon Trail, swaying like dead branches from the gallows in England, and roaming the roads throughout Scotland. Heck we even have a McCord family coat of arms and a tartan.
More importantly, it's a nomenclatural connection to my family. Yes there are Capunes and Moorheads in there, but McCord is the primary thread that links me to everyone.
My mother, born a Capune in a very French-Canadian family, changed her name when she was married at 20. "I was so happy I changed it to Rayner," she told me once. "I always hated Capune. No one could pronounce it and it always sounded so gross, like you had to pinch your nose when you said it."
She divorced and remarried my father, Michael Minor McCord, and took his name then. After 25-plus years of marriage and three sons they eventually divorced, too. Mom kept her name as McCord. She figured she had been a McCord far longer than she had ever been a Capune and liked the name better.
"Plus, after all that time... mortgages, retirement, bank accounts, social security, even just magazine subscriptions. All my friends and family all know me as McCord! It would be such a pain in the neck to change it," and she's completely right. A downright nightmare dealing with that much social circle re-wiring and bureaucracy so heavy and blunt you could club a horse to death with it.
"Plus, I don't want to change my name. My sons are McCords and I want to have that with you boys," she explained. I could hear the sentiment and see her concern through the phone.
"Mom, I don't plan to change my name. Legally in any way, at least. I'm too lazy to deal with the hassel, and professionally I've established myself as Garrett McCord. No hyphen will happen in that area of my life." It was the truth. Laziness was a primary reason. But also something else...
It's true. Many couples these days don't change their last names. Women keep their maiden names, and wear them proudly. Some couples simply hyphenate.
Fiance asked me to change my name. A request I refused but assured him that I still loved him none the less. We discussed the hyphenation, in which a rather rambunctious and at times almost heated debate over whose name would go first ensued. He said his as he sees himself as the more dominant of the two of us to which I say that is still in debate as I could crush him to death with my ego and exceedingly extroverted personality. I said mine should go first based simply on the fact that my name comes before his alphabetically and that would syntactically make more sense.
That or he'll just say, "I'm the man in this relationship," a phrase that only causes me to get out the Nerf gun and sniper a rubber dart on his forehead.
"Mom, legally, I plan to be McCord. Socially, however, I think I'll be Palmer-McCord. And yes, his name first. He seemed rather insistent, though I fear William Strunk and E. B. White may haunt me for it. It's just so stylistically naughty, but perhaps that's one of the reasons I like it?" I said the last part in honest musing.
"Don't worry, mom. I promise I'll always be a McCord."
My identity isn't just my name, I guess. But perhaps we put far too much stock in names. This little preparation for apricots is one such debacle. I suppose that apricots cooked in the oven in a bit of honey, Riesling, vanilla and thyme is sort of a braise. There's no browning, however. Then again, the person who taught it to me always called them roasted apricots since it sounds more approachable and the dish isn't covered. And even after all that I suppose we might even call them baked, but that's stretching things thinner than they need to be.
I suppose either could be right or wrong, and I don't really care to debate much about it because the result - what the apricots be they roasted or braised actually are - is what matters. The apricots are soft, honeyed, and rather haughty after a long drink of dessert wine. The flush in their face shows as much.
Served over a bit of lightly beaten cream or perhaps some whipped mascarpone and you have a rather indulgent and simple lunch to turn over your name with, regardless what you decide it is. I also enjoy these in salads with the syrup tossed with a bit of oil and vinegar, and the fruit is also lovely with grilled pork or chicken. Add one to a glass of rose wine for a delightful drink, too.
These keep well in the fridge about 2 weeks so feel free to double the recipe and keep the fruit and syrup on hand until needed.
Riesling Roasted Apricots
5-6 large apricots
2 1/2 cups Riesling
3 tablespoons honey
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
pinch of lavender buds
1/3 cup sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the apricots in half lengthwise following the groove and twist apart into two halves. Discard the stem and pit. Place them face down into a baking dish.
2. In sauce pan combine the vanilla bean pod and seeds, wine, honey, and lavender. Heat over medium until the honey has dissolved. Pour over the apricots. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
3. Remove apricots and place the wine and spice back into a sauce pan along with the sugar over medium-high heat. Reduce by a bit more than half to create a thickened and rather delightful syrup. Serve apricots and sauce by themselves, over yogurt, ice cream, cheese, salad, or even with some grilled chicken.