Now Their Names Have Been Changed to Confuse Us All

Women of the world should be able to do anything they please, but, if there are no objections, they all could do us a really big favor. There is one matter on which they should come to an agreement, maybe take a vote at the next National Organization for Women meeting or something.

Maiden names.

By the next Olympics, we need to get this surname business straightened out. Women’s last names keep changing and changing. We dim men who follow them around, we can hardly keep up.

Florence Griffith is no longer Florence Griffith, the silver-medal sprinter of 1984, but Florence Griffith Joyner, the gold medalist of 1988.


No hyphen, by the way.

Jackie Joyner is no longer Jackie Joyner, the silver-medal heptathlete of 1984, but Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the gold medalist of 1988.

With a hyphen, by the way.

Valerie Brisco-Hooks, gold-medal runner of 1984, is now Valerie Brisco, Olympian of 1988.

No more hyphen, no more Hooks.

Mary Decker, Olympic runner-tripper of 1984, is now Mary Slaney, the Olympian of 1988, but to some she is Mary Decker Slaney, just for purposes of identification.

She used to be Mary Decker Tabb, by the way.

Tracie Ruiz, the gold-medal synchronized swimmer of 1984, is now Tracie Ruiz-Conforto, the silver medalist of 1988.

Olympic record books eternally will reflect what these women’s names were at the time they took part. Divorces, marriages, hyphens, etc., are forever.

“Boy, I go out and break an Olympic record,” at least one of these women must say, “and now I’ve got to share it throughout eternity with that jerk I was married to.”

Speaking for myself, I can never figure this stuff out.

For instance, does Jacqueline Onassis still think of herself as Jacqueline Onassis, and, if so, why? Because he was her last husband? Because she doesn’t feel like getting a new driver’s license? Because everybody mispronounces Bouvier? What?

Besides a prenuptial agreement, when a guy gets married, should he have a discussion with his fiancee about whether she wants to take his last name, or whether she wants to be hyphenated, or whether she wants him to take her last name?

Al Joyner still competes. How come he isn’t Al Joyner Griffith?

I asked Florence the other day, by the way, to clear up once and for all whether she wants a hyphen in her surname or not.

“No hyphen,” she said.

So, as I have many times in the past, I referred to her in a story as Florence Griffith Joyner, and then in succeeding references as Griffith Joyner.

My editors changed it to Joyner.

Did they change it because, if she uses no hyphen, then Joyner is her true last name? Whereas Joyner-Kersee is Jackie’s true last name?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar always has this problem. People keep calling him Jabbar. He keeps explaining that his surname is Abdul-Jabbar.

Since it rarely fits into a headline, the editors sometimes call him Kareem. “Kareem Gets 30 In Laker Win.” They mean no disrespect. They are simply into shorter names, and still terribly miss Mel Ott.

Personally, I like the Russian-Slovak custom of adding an “ova” to the family name when a daughter comes along.

Griffithova. Joynerova. Deckerova.


But maybe women should keep their maiden names, and leave it at that. I don’t see why some guy should get half the credit for her Olympic medal, just because he lives with her. Or used to live with her.

The ones who do the work should get the credit.

Which reminds me, I want to know why they give medals to the equestrian riders and still stiff the horses.