How the Hyphen Happened

The hyphen.

It stands for a lot. For Nick and I, the hyphen means long sighs from the receptionist at the dentist office who tries to spell my name and the poor pizza guy trying to pronounce it.

When I decided to hyphenate my name, it came after much thinking and long, long discussions with Nick.

I’ll never forget the months preceding the decision to hyphenate my name. Thanks to my rocking memory, this is a pretty darn accurate account of one of the many conversations that took place in the summer of 2004.

We just got done eating at Sunset Bar and Grill. We’re talking about the possibility of what are names should be if we get married. At this point, we are not even engaged. We’re just in the car, I’m driving (probably too fast.)

L: Mhm. What do you think of taking my last name?

N: Nick Factora? I don’t think so. That’s just…you know, that’s just not me.

L: Weeeellll, I feel the same way about Lisa Borchers as you do about Nick Factora.

N: Yeah. I can see that.

L: Well, we could always mix the letters of both of our last names.

N: Like a whole new name?

L: Yeah! We could create a whole new family name, based from a mixing of our old ones.

N: (the infamous skeptical tilting of the head) I don’t know.

L: Why not?

N: I don’t know, it just sounds odd to me.

L: Let’s brainstorm.


L: I actually already have one in mind. I just wanted to make it sound like a new idea.

N: I am not surprised.

L: Are you ready?

N: I can’t wait.

L: What do you think of ‘Ratcho?’

N: (explosion) ‘RATCHO?’

L: See, we both have an ‘r’ in there. There’s an ‘a’ in ‘Factora.’ There’s also a ‘t’ in-

N: I can clearly see where the letters are coming from. That’s not really the problem.

L: You don’t like it.

N: Are you trying to say you’d rather be known – for the rest of your life – as ‘Lisa Ratcho’ than ‘Lisa Borchers?’


N: Think of how horrible that would be: ‘Lisa and Nick RATCHO.’

L: Yeah, you’re right. That’s pretty bad.

And thus was born the idea of hyphenating my name and Nick staying with Borchers.

My maternal grandfather is from Spain and in Spanish tradition, the maiden name of the mother becomes your middle name. I always loved the idea of your name being a story. My first names are from my grandmothers, my middle is from my mother and my last is from my father and, now, also my spouse. It certainly is a long name, (and we’re not even including Confirmation names either!), let’s not be ridiculous, but at least I never have to worry about someone having the same identity.

In addition, while I do acknowledge the annoying (yet fortunately infrequent) burden a hyphen may carry, Nick and I both agree whole-heartedly that ‘Ana Lisa Fernandez Factora-Borchers’ sounds a helluvalot better than ‘Lisa Ratcho.’