Ahead of Her Time

YOne silver spoon is engraved "MR."  The other is engraved "MRS."esterday morning I set the alarm on my watch to 10:30 p.m.  When it went off last night, I’d forgotten what I’d set it for.  Short term memory?  Not so good.

Having not thought about today’s post, the possibility of forgetting to blog was very real.  Perhaps inspired by yesterday’s list of impressive relatives, I remembered thinking, as a young child, how fortunate I was to call these people family.  Which reminded me of a few other early childhood thoughts.

Having been born before “women’s lib,” I often wondered why single and married men were addressed as “Mister,” while single and married women were differentiated by “Miss” and “Mrs.” (When you think about it, “Mrs.” isn’t even a word.  “Missus” is just a phonetic representation of “Mrs.”  Seriously??)  [See Note 1]

I also knew that married men and women shared a last name, even though they were born with different surnames.  What was the most equitable way to resolve this dilemma?  The lawyer’s daughter in me (I was only 5 or 6 years old at the time) figured the county clerk’s office kept a record of marriages (which they do), and assigned the man’s last name to odd numbered couples and the woman’s to the even numbers.  Or vice versa.  Either was fair.

When I asked my mother the question, she seemed surprised and said, “You always take the man’s name.” I replied in horror, “That’s not fair!”  She seemed taken aback.  She  probably thought That’s my daughter, the trouble-maker.

I was indeed the black sheep of the family.  My mother was the oldest of four, my father the oldest of two, and my brother the oldest of two.   At dinner one evening, I told them no one understood me because none of them were “not the oldest.”  Mom said “That doesn’t make any difference.”  Ha!  Later research would prove her wrong.

[Note 1:  Etymology tells me “Mrs.” is the abbreviation for “mistress,” yet “mistress” has been defined as “kept woman of a married man”since the 15th century.]