I grew up in Colorado. I have lived in the South for more than 20 years, however and recently found a small irritant that I just don't understand. It's nothing major, like I say, just a minor irritant, like a little itch that won't go away or an odd smell as you pass through the kitchen. Not enough to do anything about (like take out the garbage) but it's noticeable nonetheless. What is this minor irritant?
It's the use of MISTER. I'm not talking about the casual every day use. Like greeting your boss in the morning, "Oh, hello there, Mr. Jones..." or yelling at your kids as they run out the front door bare-assed naked: "You get back here, Little Mister!" No, these are all normal uses of the word.
It's the use of the moniker MISTER when coupled with a man's first name, such as "Mister Marv." I hear it a lot. I don't know why, it just grates on my nerves. It almost sounds as if they are making fun of my first name somehow. When a grown woman uses it at work, I want to reach out and pour lukewarm coffee on her. The worst, though is the kids. Neighbor kids. For some strange reason kids in the south are taught to greet neighbors and acquaintances (adults) in this "Mister" and "Miss" manner from an early age.
For a woman, calling her Miss with the first name, it seems almost genteel; like Marshall Dillon calling on his lady friend, Miss Kitty. (Now you see why I used the photo above, dontcha!) It's both formal and personal at the same time.
I've heard little kids call their preschool teacher Miss, such as "Miss Suzy, I pooped in my pants" but I don't hear them doing the same thing as they get older. (No, not pooping in their pants, the other thing.) Then, it's always Miss Smith, or Mister Smith, though I am unsure at what age this changes.
So, who's idea was this anyway? I went on a rather unscientific research expedition (spoke to a couple of people..) One Southern belle I spoke to said it should be blamed on the Southern Baptists. I think Southern Baptists can be blamed for a heck of a lot these days but I'm not convinced that they are the ones behind this particular afront. Another long time Suthunah suggested it's a plot by the Russians. Ok, so he's not completely aware that this is the 21st Century, and he still thinks Andrew Jackson is going to be the next president, so we'll leave that one out. The last explanation suggests that the affectation comes from the 18th Century Southern Society where using Mister or Miss gave status and formality to someone in a public situation where status or formality may not readily be perceived.
Ok, this I can accept! Perhaps with this in mind I can get used to the neighbor kids shouting "HIIIiii Mister Maaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrv" at the top of their lungs every time they see me.
Yes. Every. Time.
Every. Darned. Time.
Ah..the South is such a colorful place to live.