Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Non-Person

We are such stuff as dreams are made on … (Shakespeare)

According to the state where I was born, I don’t exist.

St. Anthony Hospital’s record of my birth (apparently not a legal document, but the only record I have) shows that I was given the name Carole Sue Moore. Nobody EVER called me Carole except my fifth grade teacher, until I set her straight. My name was Sue. My family called me Susie, which I refused to respond to once I became an aspiring ballerina at the age of ten.

At the much wiser age of seventeen, when I was a freshman at the College-Conservatory of Music of Cincinnati and an aspiring opera singer, I decided the name “Sue Moore” was much too short to either sound or look good for a performer. “Sue Moore” was kind of like a one-two punch. So I lengthened it to “Susan Moore.” Much better. Susan Moore had a little music in it. It still makes perfect sense to me. Mind you, it never crossed my mind to take any legal action. I just removed one letter and added three others to my middle name. The important part, Su, was still there.

When I applied for a marriage license in Hamilton County, Ohio, when I was twenty, the record shows the bride’s name as “Carol Susan Moore.” Compounding the first mistake by leaving the “e” off of Carole. My social security card and all legal documents after I was married show my name as “Susan M. Jordan.” Except my will … it’s “Carole Susan Moore Jordan.”

A few months ago I decided to apply for a passport. I’ve never needed one because I’ve only traveled to Canada a few times, but it dawned on me that even if I’d like to go to Montreal again before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I would need a passport. The only record of birth I have is the certificate from St. Anthony’s Hospital. So I contacted the Department of Health in the state where I was born, requesting a copy of my birth certificate. I submitted a copy of my social security card and my current driver’s license to prove I am a real person.

No deal. The letter I received informs me: “We cannot release the certificate because the name on your ID does not match the name on your certificate. To amend the certificate will require a certified Court Order/Legal Name Change. The Court Order MUST identify the Child on the certificate by stating the name as it NOW appears on the certificate (Carole Sue Moore).” It goes on at some length about what MUST appear on this Court Order (all caps are as they appear in my letter, including the word MUST which appears exactly like that several times, including the bold type).

I am advised legal fees for this service range from seventy-five to three hundred dollars. Hoping to avoid the expense of changing my name legally after sixty-plus years, I appealed to my local state representative’s office. They tried, to no avail. The state … er, State of my birth is intransigent. I am not a person in their eyes until I go to court … er, Court to prove it.

So for these past few months I’ve been residing in limbo. It’s not too bad to be a non-person, actually. It really kind of opens up a lot of possibilities. Think about it!

Oh … Carole Sue Moore? As I recall, she played harp in the pit orchestra for her high school’s production of Carousel.

But that’s another story.