“All right, Miss Sue,” said the doctor’s receptionist as she set up my appointment. I flinched. I’m being called “Miss Sue” too often lately. The woman in charge of putting my car back together after my accident a couple months ago called me “Miss Sue” constantly. I’ve heard it before, and I’ll hear it again, but I don’t like it. I’m not a “Miss,” haven’t been for 41 years, and I’m old enough to be that receptionist’s grandmother. I’d like to toss out the whole Miss, Ms., Mrs. thing along with the white-girl afro I wore in the ’80s. It’s so last century.
Google offers dozens of websites where people dither over whether to call a woman Miss, Ms. or Mrs., especially if they don’t know whether or not she’s married. Who cares? Men have always been Mr., married, single or shacking up.
When I was growing up, every girl’s goal was to advance from Miss to Mrs. A popular joke was that women went to college to get an MRS degree, meaning it was more important to find a husband than an education. Then the women’s liberation movement started and we adopted Ms., a neutral abbreviation that did not delineate our marital status. Fine. I’ve used it, but it can sound a little like slave and mistress talk, as in, “Okay, Miz Sue, I’ll draw your bath as soon as I finish mopping this-here floor.” Ugh. Just call me Sue. Or Mrs. Lick.
The arrival of “Ms.” didn’t stop most people from still using “miss.” On too many jobs in my college years, bosses used “Miss” almost as a pejorative. And how many waitresses over the years have been called “Miss” just before a customer complained about something? It’s like “Miss” means you don’t deserve the respect of a “Mrs.” Etiquette guru Emily Post says “Miss” is for females under age 18. That works for me.
I’m sure most people don’t mean anything by it, but these little things raise my hackles. So don’t “miss” me. Even though my husband died, I still claim the “Mrs.” title, preferably with my last name. Just like my mother taught me oh so many years ago when she was Mrs. Fagalde. Mrs. Clarence Fagalde. She was taught married women didn’t use their own first names in formal address. Hogwash, I say. I have never called myself Mrs. Husband’s Name.
It’s the 21st century. Let’s just use our first, middle and last names and forget the rest. Okay?
Just call me Sue Lick.
What do you think about this?