Falling in love is risky business, the least of which is hoping you’ll like your new last name, should you get married. Twenty-five years ago I traded the perfectly normal, easy-to-spell, easy-to-pronounce "Taylor" for the tricky name of "Vik."
What’s tricky about Vik? It’s frequently misspelled "Vic" or "Vick." Add an "s and it sounds like a cough drop. The phonetically challenged say "Vike." People often call me Vicky, and no, we’re not related to Michael Vick.
We couldn’t name our son Nicholas or Richard because Nick and Rick rhyme with Vik. So does hick. But it could have been worse. Vik was shortened from an even trickier name. And therein lies my tale.
On May 11, 1912 Grandpa Vik left Norway at the tender age of twenty and sailed from Liverpool, England on the H.M.S. Mauritania with twenty dollars in his pocket. Family legend says Grandpa Vik was scheduled to sail on the Titanic but sold his ticket and traveled one month later.
At Ellis Island, he changed his name from "Johannes Vorpvik" to "John Vik." And Viks ever since have been thankful.
With all due respect to Norwegians, "Vorpvik," was outside the realm of my experience. I grew up in Northern California with Italians, Japanese, and Mexicans and thought last names like "Franceschi," "Taniguchi," and "Hernandez" were normal.
Grandpa settled in Irene, South Dakota and persuaded a young widow to trade her perfectly normal, easy-to-spell, easy-to pronounce name of "Johnson" for "Vik." But Marie, aware of his history, knew she had dodged a bullet and welcomed the shortened version.
If Grandpa Vik hadn’t come to America, or had sailed on the Titanic, or hadn’t changed his name, there wouldn’t have been a Keith Vik for me to marry and I might have ended up with Gary Mukaida and had Japanese children.
So the moral of the story is to only date men whose last name you like, or have them immigrate somewhere and change it.