March 11, 2011
I received a friend request on Facebook the other day, which isn’t totally out of the ordinary, but it was the opening salutation that caught my eye. “Hey Hubbard” it said. I didn’t have a clue as to the identity of this person, who was sending the request, but we both had some mutual “likes” so I accepted the invitation. Right away it became obvious to me that whoever had sent the request just wanted some traffic on their websites and I wasn’t interested, so, no harm, no foul, I deleted them from my friend list, but that opening salutation really bugged me.
Being addressed only by my last name has been a pet peeve of mine for years and years. I think it started way back when in school when certain teachers would address me only by my last name, and to me, it showed a lack of respect.
Since my very first day of elementary school I bristled at the autocratic rules of the school system and I always felt that respect had to be earned, not just given to someone in authority. Now, I wish I had not felt this way, it caused me too much anguish as I rebelled all the way through school, and it probably cost me some higher education, too, but I couldn’t help it. It must have been the position of the moon and stars when I was born, or maybe it was something my Mom ate while she was carrying me, but whatever the reason, I was born that way; or is it this way? Whatever. I grew up living John Mellencamp’s “Authority Song”-“I fight Authority. Authority always wins!”
I remember attending high school in Kipling and one particular teacher never ever addressed any of his students by their first name. With a school filled with so many students who shared last names like Daku, Doka, Kish or Szakacs how were the students supposed to know which one he was addressing? To me, by only using someone’s last name, he seemed to be taking away some part of their person. Imagine, if you will, walking into the Kipling School gymnasium, full of Baby Boomer kids in 1970, and yelling out “Hey Daku!” and seeing twenty or thirty, or more, heads turn. See what I mean?
I have eight brothers and sisters so being addressed as an individual person, not just a Hubbard, seemed very important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of being a Hubbard, we even have our own nursery rhyme and everything, and how many people can say that, but I am an individual, too.
Having said all of that, it’s kind of ironic, then, that my older brother got his first nick-name because a teacher misheard his last name.
Ol’ Mrs. Peale: “You there! New kid. What’s your name?”
Gord: “Gordon Hubbard.”
Ol’ Mrs. Peale: “What!?”
Ol’ Mrs. Peale: “Well, Howard, what’s the answer to number twelve?”
And so it began. From that day, in Gord’s first grade seven Literature class at Lindale School in Moose Jaw, until he walked out the door for the final time in June of 1970, his friends and peers always called him “Howard” or “Howie.”
Today, my kids and their peers address each other by their last names like it’s a term of endearment. Things change. They all seem fine with it. Me? I’m still old school and I just can’t stop myself from cringing every time someone addresses me by starting off with, “Hey, Hubbard!”
“Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith.”-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935).