Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mister

Jeff van Gundy wondered why his brother was referred to as Mr. van Gundy in the Wall Street Journal today. "Why are they so formal? And the NYTimes, too. He's not Mr. Anybody, he's just Stan!"

And this is another nail in the coffin of mediated media. He's not "just Stan" for crying out loud. He's coaching (albeit not that successfully) in the premier event of his sport. He's all that's on television and if the freakin' Wall Street Journal is writing about his double knit pullovers and off the rack slacks then he certainly is Mr. Somebody.

Do you detect a note of hysteria here, perhaps? As the walls of my fortress are attacked, I must strike back. I ask you: What is wrong with showing respect?

I have never been able to call my parents' friends by their first names. Not after I was Sadie Sadie Married Lady nor Mother to G'ma and Daddooooo's first grandchild nor after funerals and illnesses or anything else that life might present. I knew where I stood in the pecking order, and I liked it just fine. Using the honorific was, indeed, an honoring of them. And they'd earned it.

Why would someone reject Mr. as a title? Does it imply something, perhaps? Does it indicate that you are a person of substance, and as such you command respect by behaving respectfully? Does its use force you to examine your behavior under a different set of lenses? And is the view less flattering than you might like?

Of course, if you're "just Stan" none of that matters at all.

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