Monday, August 27, 2007

The Trouble With Names in the Age of Homeland Security

Man, oh man, I never thought names would get us into this pickle. Here's the family problem, typically a la Gorman's, which means there's more drama and fireworks than there should be.
In 1992 I met Gilma Aguilar in Peru. In January, 1994 I married her. At the time she had two boys: Italo Marcial Coral Aguilar and Marco Vinicio Ruiz Aguilar. The way they do it in Peru is to put the dad's name first, then the mom's father's name. So Chepa--Gilma was always called Chepa, which is short for Josefa, her middle name, as it's an extreme invasion to call someone by their first name--had been married once, to Italo's dad (Italo and Marco both insist we use their first name, against Iquitos' type) a man named Coral. Now Mr. Coral disappeared about the time Italo was born, victim of a Colombian neck-tie, a particularly brutal way to go and generally reserved for talkative drug-dealers, which he probably was as the Peruvian government forfeited everything Chepa had on his demise. What did she know? Probably not much, being a girl from the chacra--a field girl--who married at 16 and had a son before she was 18.
She subsequently spent a couple of years living with and bearing a son, Marco, to a man named Ruiz. I met Mr. Ruiz. Not a bad man at all, but somehow he and Chepa split up.
So when I met her and she went to work for me out on the Rio Jivari in the middle of no-man's-land in the Amazon Jungle, she was free. And I fell for her like something out of a storybok. She schooled me on how to pilot a boat on the dangerous Amazon, stood with me as the two of us held off a boatload of marauding priates with just two machetes and a knife ("First one of you on the boat is going to die. So is the second. Who want's to be number one and two????), and was beautiful to boot.
Anyway, we married and had Madeleina.
Now Madeleina's last name is Gorman. Same as me.
But Italo and Marco came to the US as permanent residents before their adoptions were done. And because both of their dads were not in the picture, the Peruvian Passport agency gave them the last name Aguilar on their passports. But the US Embassy gave them the names Coral and Ruiz on their green cards and Coral Aguilar and Ruiz Aguilar on their social security cards. Their Texas Driver's Licenses have them as Coral and Ruiz. At schools in New York and Texas they always went by the name Gorman.
It's a small problem we've been trying to fix for 12 years. And nobody will give. The adoption papers from peru, which took several years to get, have me as the birth father for both Italo and Marco, but the US won't accept that because there is no record of me having known Chepa at the time of the boys' births. The local colleges won't let Italo attend as a local because he graduated from High School as Gorman and his driver's licence says Coral. He works under the name Aguilar because bosses always insist in seeing his passport, which means he's been given a second social security number under that name. And now Marco is losing jobs because his Passport reads differently from his green card and Social Security Card and both read differently from his High School Diploma....
Oy vey. So I'm trying to fix it and now that they're both over 18, I called a dirty lawyer in Cleburne, Texas--a lawyer I've called on the carpet for corruption in printed articles, but one who can get this sort of thing done--to ask for a hearing before a judge to get their names changed officially to Gorman, assuming my kids want that. (They both did until last night when I yelled at them both for not pitching in on the lawn or housework, assuming I'm a happy slave to them.) And the lawyer will represent us for the name change for a measly $2,500 but when told the story of the three names said the price might go up geometrically. "Hell, they're latinos to begin with, and in this age of Homeland Security, plus you being a former editor of High Times magazine, well, the court is libel to see them as some sort of who knows what? In which case my fee would be $25,000. Course we won't know that till you pay me the $2,500 and we get to court. All I'm saying is I'm not promising anything in this time of terrorists and what with your kids having multiple names..."
Know what? They're my kids. Cut us open and the same DNA will appear. I've raised them for 14 years. That ought to be enough.
It may not be. Welcome to 1984 in 2007.


bamboo said...

Thats nuts.
Frankly speaking, I won't visit the US since "homeland security" took over. My last border crossing was hell and I vowed never again to enter the states as long the political climate remained "us vs. them". I'm still shocked your in texas....

esoter1c said...

Hopefully when these new national id cards come out you can sort it then, or it's just gonna get even worse which is usally the case.

New World Order, ya right more like disorder. >(

The Grudge said...

Wow, sounds like a nightmare. Although I would think that I would have the coolest-longest Latino last name if these naming conventions were to be held here. Alas, good luck Peter.