Wednesday, March 11, 2015

On Being Identified As Armenian

Meeting with a playwright from Los Angeles last night, Marash Girl was telling stories from the old days -- stories from the years that she was an ardent member of the Harvard Radcliffe Armenian Club.  Her friend, the playwright, insisted that Marash Girl record the following story on her blog.  So here goes. . . 

Many years ago, Marash Girl met David Balaban, an ardent member of the Harvard Radcliffe Armenian Club, a brilliant young man who had travelled from the Northwest to study at Harvard College (later to become a brilliant and successful lawyer, of course!)  David was Armenian, but unlike the rest of his, he did not have the identifying marker at the end of his name.  He had no ". . .ian".  No one would know, looking at his name, or, for that matter, looking at him, that he was Armenian.  But David soon corrected that problem.

David Balaban submitted application to the courts to change his name from David Balaban to David Balabanian. When he appeared before the judge, (as David tells it), the judge asked him, "Are you sure you want to lengthen your last name?  Everyone who appears before me for a name change wants their name shortened . . . And you want yours lengthened?  Really?"  And, of course, the rest is history.  David Balabanian was Marash Girl's good friend in college . . . one of Marash Girl's and Marash Boy's best friends . . . and he is now one of the best lawyers on the west coast. 

So there, all you guys that changed your names so that no one would know that you were Armenian. . .  Some of us WANT to be Armenian!  See?  Get it?


  1. I remember him very well. He had a great sense of humor and his family manufactured the inexpressibly delicious, 'Turkish Delight'.

    1. His family produced Aplets and Cotlets made from their apple orchards in the state of Washington!

  2. Hmm..perhaps I should consider a change to a more "Southern" name? Sarah-Jane? Sally-Mae? No. I will just rely on my accent to exhibit my roots, and in any event those roots seem rather humble compared to the historical significance of Armenian ones!