To hell with the “L.”

LShould I have titled this “My beloved husband, A cautionary tale?”

Friends, how much strife can a letter cause you? Turns out a lot. When I wrote I suggest you marry a foreigner, at least once I highlighted the fun of marrying a foreigner. You knew there had to be a downside too, right? Here goes.

When Sasha was 15 he moved from Kazakhstan to Israel, changing his last name from Гиллер to גילר What of it? Well, fancy linguistic explanation you will not receive … an “L” got lopped off. In terms of the Latin alphabet he went from Giller to Giler. Wonder where the L went? lt was simply removed since the Hebrew language doesn’t have double letters. (Okay, one exception I know of is when they are trying to make a foreign word like “Washington” where in the Hebrew alphabet “w” doesn’t exist – they will use a double “vav.” Get off it, nerds.

All this didn’t really seem to matter … official documentation like passports reflected this change. I guess nobody ever thought that years later he’d be married – to an American – who didn’t know what the hell to change her name to, or how it could happen.

Imagine taking a routine trip to the courthouse to change your name. BUT you’re not exactly taking your husband’s married name, and you’re not creating a new name entirely. It’s a grey area. A lot of paperwork, charming, and begging was involved. I was downright humble. I pulled out the big guns – playing on the courthouse clerk’s sentimental-emotional side. “Oh, you were a teenager during the blizzard of ’78 and you did WHAT with the stranded flight attendants? That is AMAZING!”

Think about all the HR paperwork you fill out, getting all those quizzical comments. “Do you know you have two “LL”s in your last name and your husband has one? Or at the hospital when you’ve had your child. “Yup. Ellen Giller. Liron Giller. And Alexander Giler.” A Giller minus an L.

This L debacle has been the source of a lot of entertainment, giggles, whatnot. At the same time it’s been super annoying and generally has just created headaches. So last year when Sasha became a citizen he was able to update his paperwork and finally join us as a full-fledged Giller. It was all, “Yay! Pretty cool! You’re one of us now!” Blah blah blah.

Until I did my taxes last week. And get a big fat “Rejected” note from the IRS. The IRS knows no Alexander “LL” Giller.

And that’s when I almost lost it.


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