It was Shakespeare's Juliet who, while pining after Romeo, famously remarked that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. She would, one feels, be less inclined to hold this view were she alive to witness the latest trend among newlywed Americans.
For, as if matrimony were not enough to bring two people together, Americans are mixing and matching their names a practice that would make Juliet a Capague or a Montapulet.
"Meshing" not to be confused with "mashing" or "moshing" is ostensibly aimed at banishing the sexism that comes when a woman takes her husband's surname.
New York Times writer Jodi Wilgoren, who married architect and playwright Gary Ruderman last year, said she would only share her husband's name on an equal basis. So the couple now go by the name of Rudoren, claiming it was more practical than hyphenation and more egalitarian than having to choose one surname over the other.
Well-meaning as they may be, these liberals cannot take all the credit for this phenomenon because Hollywood has been playing the name-game for a while.
First there was Bennifer, when Ben Affleck hooked up with Jennifer Lopez. Then there was Bennifer II, when Affleck paired up with Jennifer Garner. They now have a Baby Bennifer.
While the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston union never gave us Branniston it sounded too much like a sandwich pickle their seismic split delivered Brangelina, an awesome alliance of cheekbones and lips. And now there is TomKat, the inseparable yet currently and curiously invisible merger of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
Yet reaching further back into time, we find that the pioneers of meshing are in fact from the UK: it was British sitcom Brookside's Ron and Bev who gave us Casa BevRon, their love nest complete with white plastic picket fence and a suspension of taste.
Clearly, meshing is a case of life imitating art, although it is debatable which will last longer: the trend, or the couples who voluntarily adopt it.
(China Daily 07/20/2006 page6)