I drop off my wife’s mail-in ballot and explain to the poll worker that I also need a ballot.
“No problem,” he says.
But there is a problem.
“She’s Ferguson, you’re Estrin,” he says, sounding confused.
I can’t resist. After five years of marriage, I’ve become hyper-aware of the assumptions strangers make when it comes to gender and surnames. The mailman, hotel clerks, and TSA officers all being prime examples.
“I’m a modern man,” I declare. “I decided to keep my last name, rather than take her last name.”
My joke, my little twist on who should take whose last name sails over the man’s head.
“I don’t understand,” he says. “She’s really your wife?”
His question is irrelevant to voting, but I don’t want to cause any additional confusion at the ballot box, so I decide to clarify the situation in terms a man like this can understand.
“Of course she’s my wife,” I say. “When have you heard of a single man running errands for a woman who isn’t his wife?”
My logical is as flawed as our democracy, and so it’s no surprise at all that the man responds with a knowing smile and a friendly wave toward the ballot box.