One day, years after we were married, the following came to me in a dream:
When making plans for married life
Consulting with your future wife
You might encounter the temptation
Of anti-sexist hyphenation.
Think twice before you do this naming:
You'll spend your future life explaining.
Explaining, then: Our last name is Nielsen Hayden. A double last name; worse, the above doggerel notwithstanding, an unhyphenated double last name. We decided on this when we were married in 1979. We had no idea how many problems it would cause.
Properly, it alphabetizes under N. No one gets it right. Not banks, government agencies, employers, indexes, or our block association. The Library of Congress believes that Patrick's last name is "Nielsen Hayden" but that Teresa's is "Hayden." Convincing our own employer's personnel department of our surname required a campaign of several years' duration. We console ourselves with the notion that, on the bright side, all those nefarious Orwellian supersecret government agencies are probably just as confused. "Hey, Ralph, you know that woman from Arizona we were supposed to be watching 24/7? I've been through the entire N folder and she's noplace to be found."
You can help. When you see one of our books in a bookstore, filed under H, move it to the Ns. Of course, you'll want to turn it face out while you're at it. Just to underline the point, you know. Thank you. (--pnh)