Charles Aznavour and me

Now that I’m married to Guido I’ve been toying with the idea of changing my surname.

“Don’t be so ridiculous,” said Guido in bed last night, “what on earth do you want to do that for?”

My surname is Smith. It’s not exactly the most exciting surname in the world and his is Vasquez, which sounds more, well, exotic.

“Ok, I could double barrel it and call myself Jean dash Paul Smith dash Vasquez,” I said. There was a moment’s silence as that grammatical option sank in for both of us.

“How could any normal person possibly go through their day to day life and still manage to keep up with all of those dashes?” said Guido. And for once he made perfect sense.

I’m also a person with an eye for aesthetics so the longer I pondered it the more I thought it would look odd without another dash strategically placed somewhere in between the Paul and the Smith too. That would mean three dashes between just four names and in my opinion it was beginning to verge on overload on the hyphen front.

“Like I said,” I said, “I could cut to the chase and just drop the Smith altogether and fully embrace the Vasquez.”

At that point Guido switched off the lamp and did that thing where he pretends to instantly go to sleep.

Here’s an interesting fact you don’t know about Guido. His middle name is Guillermo. His mother told me that when he was a baby what she really wanted was to call him Guido Geronimo Vasquez. Not surprisingly his father put his foot down.  I assume he didn’t want his son being mistaken for an Apache. Though apparently Geronimo originates from a very rare Italian form of Jerome. As you can see his mother has a terrific sense of humor, though I have to say I’m somewhat relieved his parents didn’t split their differences and call him Sitting Bull instead.

On this blog I call my mother Cruella. She isn’t really called Cruella. She doesn’t have hair the colour of a skunk and she doesn’t wear a Dalmatian fur coat. Though she does have very bright red lips and she has been known to smoke using a long cigarette holder. But she definitely does act like someone who could be called Cruella Smith or possibly even Cyanide Smith. Her name is Catherine but sometime around about 1974 she started calling herself Cookie. The name Cookie evokes something sweet and syrupy and melting, and trust me, the Cookie Smith I know is none of those things.

“Why Jean-Paul?” I once asked my mother inquisitively when I was much younger.

“Just before I met your father,” she said, “I had a torrid affair with a small Frenchman who looked just like Charles Aznavour.”

Knowing my mother he could actually have been Charles Aznavour. I’m not sure if the particular Frenchman she had the torrid affair with could sing but let’s just say every time she hears the song, She, Cookie comes over all peculiar. The worrying thing is, from a certain angle I share a passing resemblance to a younger version of Charles Aznavour. We do both have very bushy eye-brows and big noses.

I lay in bed in the dark thinking. Jean-Paul Aznavour. It does have a certain ring to it.


27 thoughts on “Charles Aznavour and me

  1. This is at the same time funny and with something really sad behind. I don’t know if you’ve actually overcome your “differences” with your mother in time but I do hope it does not feel bad anymore. I think Jean-Paul Aznavour Vasquez sounds lovely. It sounds in acronym like JP Ave, so Ave Aznavour in preparation.


  2. I thought recently to change my middle name from… well, I won’t even tell you what it is… to ‘Salvatore’. Better.

    I had a business correspondence with someone the other week with the last name ‘Truszczynski’. ‘Z’ before ‘C’ followed by ‘Z’ and multiple hyphens, a big mess.


  3. I think you two should come up with an amalgam of the letters of your last names, into a hybrid suitable for a cryptic crossword clue. When in doubt, Mr. and Mr. Fabulous might do.


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