I’m voting for Hilary. And it’s not just because of her views, or her beliefs, or her experience (although those things are very helpful.) But to be honest: It’s because of Bill. I really, really want to know what they will call him. Many titles have been thrown around for the first male presidential spouse: The First Gentleman? The First Dude? The First Fella? I suppose it doesn’t really matter what he’s called- he will be the first one in history to have that title. He can create it or define it however he wants to.
I just completed my first month taking on my new job title: teacher. After 15 years as an attorney, I am enjoying my new role for many reasons, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly because I have an actual captive audience. And they think I’m hilarious. They may be nine years old, but they have an excellent sense of humor. I have realized that there’s not a whole lot of difference between my DUI clients and my 4th graders. Both insist that everyone is against them, but after a brief time-out, it’s pretty easy to get them both to say that they are sorry.
Life is all about our changing titles. We go from being a baby to a child to a teenager to an adult. We are “middle schoolers” or “high schoolers.” At one point or another, we are freshman, sophomores, juniors, or seniors. Finishing school makes you a “graduate.” Taking that job makes you an accountant or a stockbroker or a dancer. Getting married makes you a spouse, having a child makes you a parent.
This week, in preparation for another round of unnecessary state testing, I had to teach my students the art of filling in a bubble sheet (or, as I keep calling it, a “scantron.”) While kids today don’t have to do this very often, my entire life seems to have consisted of filling in that circle. My January 23 birthday was always the most fun to fill out on that form (it was an easy 1-2-3.) For women, that bubble in front of our names always had three choices: “Miss,” “Ms.” or “Mrs. “Miss” sounded young and innocent, “Mrs.” sounded old and serious. “Ms.” just sounded like an over-zealous feminist.
In preparation for school this fall, the administration wanted to know which one of those options to call me. I wasn’t sure. When school started, the kids needed to know what to call me. I offered fun options such as “Teach,” or a throwback name “Mr. Kotter,” but for some reason, the head of school felt those to be inappropriate.
For reasons that are not necessary to be discussed at this juncture, but will at some point make for a great sequel to my book, I have entered a gray area in my life on that bubble sheet.
I guess I could technically be called “Dr.” Having a law degree allows one to do that, I suppose, although doing so makes any lawyer sound absolutely ridiculous. Anyone with a doctorate degree does have that right. I’m still not sure why that never seemed to make sense for us attorneys.
According to the scantrons and magazine subscription forms of the past, I guess I have gone from a Mrs. to a Ms. When things get finalized, I’m legally no longer a Mrs. I guess I could go back to being a Miss, although at my age and frankly with my particular life at this point, that seems very wrong. And the Ms., well, I think that still sounds a little Gloria Steinem-ish.
For now, I still love the title of mom, and sister and daughter and friend. And for my students, when they want to get my attention or to tell me about a scratch on their arm, or to ask me to go to the bathroom or to get a drink of water or to tell me about a dream they had or a fight they had with their little brother, they call me “Ms. Primack.”
Like Bill, I’ll take the time to figure out what I want to be called. I’ll test the waters and see what title feels right. There’s no rush. This year, I can create it or define it however I want to.