Updated: August 15, 2013 6:19AM
If I am listed as “Ms” or Miss and my name is spelled wrong wherever it is that I go when I leave here, I am going to come back in a real snit.
I have been amiss sometimes, but never a Miss or a Ms.
This gender thing hits me every few months, and even though I know that I am a fellow, if not always a gentleman, it still riles me, a mild kid from the farm.
It is not ego, it is just a puzzlement over why my first name causes so much confusion.
The latest episode involved a new Hoosier in Congress, Sen. Joe Donnelly. He probably is an honorable fellow, but either he can’t read well, or his aides can’t or they have fertile imaginations, or maybe they all went to Purdue instead of I.U.
Let us get this straight, senator. My kids call me Dad.
This is not as important as cutting the national debt, but it tells me something about what going to Washington does to some folks.
I signed a little petition thing that went to the honorable senator’s office and promptly got a nice thank you note. It was addressed to Ms. Carol Vertrees. My last name was right, which is something, I reckon, considering how busy some of our public servants are back there in the center of confusion, contention and big pensions.
I sent him a note labeled PERSONAL asking why they assumed I am a female and why they messed up my first name. He probably never saw the note. If he did he does not care.
Good grief! Does he not know that I am famous back here in my precinct?
Well, not really. A few years back I got a nice fan letter from a woman reader who addressed me as Ms. This puzzled me because my full length photo, an exciting example of male virility, accompanied the column she liked so much.
What’s in a name? That question came up in one of Bill Shakespeare’s things, and I wanted to quote it in my senatorial note, but I figured that he would not be impressed, so I didn’t. He probably wouldn’t see the note anyway.
This latest name episode got me to thinking about Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. Remember them? If his name had been Shirley, how would my senator’s office address a note? Maybe “Dear sir or madam.” Or maybe “Dear sirs.” Maybe nobody in that office remembers cowboy or cowgirl movies. Now, that is a shame.
What if I were a boy named Sue?
Old folks like me often repeat themselves, like telling the same story several times, as I am about to do. A coed at the little college I was about to enter sent me a note saying that she would be my Big Sister on campus. I hoped for something more, I told her, assuring her that I was a real live masculine boy. We had fun with that one.
There is a lesson, I think, in this little bit of name and gender confusion. We too often assume something is right or wrong, either because we want to believe it or because of our cultural background. This is bigger than how to spell a name.
A public servant, like new Sen. Joe Donnelly, should not be careless with the names of the folks back home. If he cannot get our names right, how can he understand the really big stuff?
I am right on this, or my name isn’t …