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Friday, September 04, 2009

Hey You!

I was across from two dating age girls who were conversing about all of the various rules their dating friends must abide by. I wasn't really paying attention because I'm aware of the growing list of rules. But then one rule caught my ear. Apparently the girl is not supposed to address the boy she is on a date with by his first name. So what is she supposed to address him as? Reb Yid? Mister? Hey You? Perhaps one can address their date by a number and dehumanize the process completely?

Wouldn't it be nice to put a little fun back into dating? I'm not sure these girls have even been out on a date by the way they were conversing, and they already seemed burdened by the whole process. What a shame.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I was dating I be'davka didn't follow any "rules" execept for being a nice, friendly person, as I was taught at home and by my chevra.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Obviously, they are following the secular rule Don't ever call your sweetheart by his name.

The Leader, Garnel Ironheart said...

Fun is the same as pritzus for some.

Call Me Sir said...

SL: I think you should ban all first names from this blog. No one should be allowed to comment if they use a first name like tesyaa or ariella or mike. It's bad enough that you let both men and women comment on the same post.

Ariella said...

Well, sir, you can call me Dr. Brown ;-)
A photographer told me he calls all brides "Sweetheart," so that he doesn't have to remember their names. Obviously, that would sound rather forward on a first shidduch date. Perhaps they actually fear that the girls will confuse the name and cause offense. Maybe they can just call the boys by a combo of their yeshiva name, age, and last initial , like Lakewood25C.

ProfK said...

If calling a date--someone the datee hopes will turn out to be a marriage partner, and the sooner the better--by name is too "intimate," too "untsniusdik," just what are these daters going to be like when they find out what real married life involves?! No wonder that shalom bayis issues are on the rise.

JohnGalt said...

I don't let my wife call me by my first name... It's Mr. Galt to her... why should dating be any different?

Real-Time Jew said...

My wife tells me that this "rule", or at least the expectation was in place when we were dating (10-15 years ago).

Insisting on normalcy in my dating life, I remained ignorant of or simply ignored this and many other rules, and happily addressed all my dates by their first names...

Apparently, this helped move things along with my wife-to-be - since I was using her first name nearly from the get-go, she came to the conclusion that I must be VERY interested...

Anonymous said...

While obviously people dating should call each other by their first names, what do people think of children and teens calling adults who are not relatives by their first names? When I was growing up, neither I nor my siblings nor anyone else I knew would ever dream of calling an adult anything other than Mr. X or Mrs. X or Miss X. Now, even among some orthodox the use by children of first names for adults other than their teachers seems standard and adult friends introduce me to their young children by my first name. Am I just being an old fart, or does this diminish respect for one's elders? Is it a good thing to be breaking down walls of unnecessary formality?

BrooklynWolf said...

When I was growing up, neither I nor my siblings nor anyone else I knew would ever dream of calling an adult anything other than Mr. X or Mrs. X or Miss X.

Heh. I was the same way and it carried with me even into adulthood.

My friend's father was always Mr P. (replace "P" with his full last name) to me. I met him when I was about ten and all throughout my life I always called him Mr. P.

When I was about thirty five, I was working in an electronics store and he wanted to buy something. I told him to come in and I'd get him a discount. While he was there, I wanted to get his attention, so I said "Mr. P..." He said to me "Wolf, you've known me for twenty five years - you can call me Mike!"

Even so... I still can't do it. :)

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

Wolf: I am the exact same way. I can't start using first names with someone I met as a Mr. or Mrs. as a child even though I am now sprouting some gray hair. For many years I even had a hard time not calling my mother in law "Mrs. R" since I knew her as a child.

ProfK said...

I'm with those commenters who mentioned calling adults by their first names when you're kids. We never did so. I don't like it now. Those who were really close friends of the family got to be "Tante" or "Fetter" to show the closer relationship. Not one of my children's friends calls me anything but Mrs. K.

Irks me even more with the modern trend to leave off uncle and aunt for those who really are an uncle or aunt. And in Israel we saw plenty of kids who called their grandparents by their first names, with no honorarium title in front of that name.

If this is modernity, give me back the olden times.

Anonymous said...

While we are on the issue of first names, what do you call a newly minted rabbi who is 25 years younger than you are? He calls me by my first name. Do I call him by his first name? Do I call him "Rabbi first name"? Just rabbi?

ProfK said...

Anonymous,
Is this newly minted rabbi YOUR rabbi of your shul? Then Rabbi followed by last name would be appropriate. Is it only that the person got smicha? Then a first name would be fine. Is it a social situation and he is not your personal rav or even a practicing shul rav? Then a first name would be fine.

When you see someone in a professional setting, and that profession has an honorarium title, you call the person by the title and last name. When in the doctor's office you say Dr. X. When you are eating lunch together in someone's house then the honorarium does not apply and he is Joseph. Is he much older than you are? Even in the social setting you might then say Dr. X or Dr. Joe.

JS said...

I always address a rabbi as simply "rabbi" unless the person with smicha does not work in a rabbinical capacity and/or doesn't wish to be called "rabbi." To me, it's disrespectful to call a rabbi anything else; age is no object. It's like saying you wouldn't call your doctor "doctor" just because he's younger. I usually append the last name unless the person prefers the first name.

Similarly, with adults as a child it was always Mr. X or Mrs. Y unless the person insisted otherwise. I think respect is lessened if you refuse to honor the person's wishes.

I can see why some adults don't want to be called Mr. X or Mrs. Y. When I was a child, those adults seemed so OLD and so big. Now, to be that age it seems odd in retrospect.

Haven't really had to deal with the issue, but I think Mr. and Mrs. should be the default, out of respect, unless a child is instructed otherwise by the person (not by the child's parents).

tdr said...

I grew up in a hippy dippy neighborhood and everyone called everyone by first names. I was uncomfortable using titles except with teachers in school. Things changed once I became frum. I use titles myself except with friends and neighbors. I think people overuse first names in business relationships. It's overly familiar.

By default I think kids should always use Mr./Mrs./Miss with adults. I used to insist that my kids always use titles with our friends. However I have several friends who would just as soon be called by their first names. I think it is more respectful to ultimately go with the wishes of the adult. I don't like the Tante/Fetter thing with people who are not actual relatives.

SephardiLady said...

I'm old fashioned. Relatives have a title, teachers are Mrs, Mr, or Morah. Rabbis are Rabbis, preferably with a last name. Adults get addressed by children as Dr., Mr., or Mrs. And sports coaches or other instructors are Coach, Miss, or Mr./Mrs.

My friends kids just call me so-and-sos Mommy. And that is great, since I don't always care to be Mrs. And I'm fine with close friends older children calling me by my first name.

Titles are to keep a certain level of formality. When it comes to dating, I think a first name is best. If the goal of dating is marriage, you want to gradually increase the connection. First names are what equals address each other as, and we do want the two dating partners to view each other as equals I presume?

SephardiLady said...

Growing up, there were a small handful of adults that were called by their first name, and it hardly seemed informal. I wonder why? One of those adults was actually a substitute teacher and I remember she came to sub my 1st grade class and I was so excited I yelled out hello M, to which she said I'm Mrs. A today.

There was one teacher in my high school who was called by her first name (not in an academic dept) and I just couldn't do it. I'd known her forever as Mrs. C and she is still that. There was another teacher I kept in contact with after high school who told me that now that I'd graduated I should call her by her first name. Impossible, even though I'd probably schedule a playdate with her if I went back home to see my parents. I guess if we were playdating, it would be very hard for her to be Mrs. H.

Anonymous said...

I think when dating, the two should call each other "potential spousal unit" or "psu" so that they remember the seriousness of the date.

Miami Al said...

It goes both ways though, the total lack of decorum from the schools (and medical providers) toward their clientelle makes it impossible to show respect. When interacting with people at my kids school, it was always Mr./Mrs./Miss./Dr./Rabbi, whichever is appropriate, but then they started calling me by my first name. If you aren't my friend, and we're in a business setting, I am Mr. X, or Sir if you don't remember my name.

Nothing irks me more than being addressed as "daddy" by someone in education or my kid's doctor office. Daddy is a fine way for my kids to address me, it's a term for endearment, if I cut you checks and you haven't heard otherwise, it's Mr. or Sir.

The breakdown in social mores is real, and I see no reason for it to go one way. Don't expect me to address you as Dr. or Rabbi and then call me by my first name if we aren't friends.

Regarding kids, it's tough to say, because at what age is it appropriate to teach them much more complicated words, and if I've always been "Al," how do you stop it at age 5 or 6?

Ariella said...

There is someone in our neighborhood whose 6 year-old child addresses us by first name. I would have my children address the parents as Mr. and Mrs., but they want to be called by their first names even by children. In fact, the child used to call his parents by their first names. But that they didn't care for. You also then get into the question of what to call your in-laws if you are neither comfortable calling them Mom and Dad or the equivalent or by their first names. Calling them Mr. and Mrs. would sound rather formal. Of course, some of us skirt the issue by waiting until there are grandchildren to name the in-laws by their choice of grandparent name.

But all this is really a different issue from what to call the person you are on a date with. Perhaps avoiding names is better than saying the wrong name. As for the formality of using Mr., that was commonplace in the the early 19th century as evidenced by the parents in Pride and Prejudice addressing each other as Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. When introduced to a young lady, a gentleman would address her as Miss Bennett (or Miss Elizabeth if the eldest sister were present). It was considered a sign of intimacy and, therefore, in some contexts, a breach of manners to call someone by the given name alone. But people of the same generation with any closeness did call each other by first name, as we see in Mansfield Park where Fanny's cousins address as just Fanny.

Miami Al said...

Ariella, I'm not sure I would take a fictional account of upper crust society as "common place." There are formal manners of etiquette, and appropriate places for them. If you and your spouse are at an extremely formal occasion, one would be introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Husband's Given Name - Family Name, and address all present in that manner. There are certainly formal occasions where that is appropriate, but I wouldn't be calling my friends Mr. and Mrs. (or Dr. and Mrs., or Mr. and Dr.) in my living room.

Proper manners and etiquette are important to learn, but part of that is knowing when to use them. I may jokingly call my kids Master X and Miss Y, but I certainly wouldn't run my household where that is expected. But invitations to a formal occasion, one should use the title.

I don't know that I would agree that there is a collapse of manners in modern America... elders have complained about the manners of children since the Roman Republic... I think that our historical record of bygone eras is of the upper crust, and with the cheaper forms of media, we now document what was once called the Rabble.

In the early 19th century, you needed portraits for documentation. Cameras and film were once expensive. Now a $300 computer and a $100 camera and you can have an entire library of images published on the web for relatives to click-and-buy.

If you were able to go to the early 19th century and observe the interactions of people of middle class life, I doubt you would see the formality that was captured of those of wealth. A debutante ball of today would have the same formality of the fictionalized world of the 19th century, just with regular showers.

Ariella said...

It is only a novel, that's true. But novels do offer accurate reflections of the cultures they depict. There is no disputing the fact that there was greater formality in 19th century society, even in the early 20th century society. That is not to say that informality is a bad thing but to note that there are differences in what is considered the norm today and the norm of two hundred or even a hundred years ago.
I can assure you that my mother would be highly affronted to have a child call her by her first name. She would consider it the height of insolence or chutzpah. (She is even affronted by doctors who address her by first name). In contrast, I find it only surprising to hear a child address me by first name and don't demand a more formal address from adults who call me by first name. That is clearly a generational and cultural difference. She was born in the early part of the 20th century in Europe and I in the latter part of the 20th century in America.

jdub said...

When I was clerking for a federal judge, she wanted me to call her by her first name. I felt uncomfortable doing so. We compromised on "Boss Lady."

My kids call all adults, even our closest friends, by Mr./Ms./Dr/Rabbi Last name. Nobody gets a pass (think what would happen if we delineated by "closest friends").

As to rabbis, it depends. If he's acting in a rabbinic capacity, it's Rabbi Last Name. If he's a lawyer with smikha, it's first name, but my kids will call him Rabbi Last Name unless he requests Mr.

Anonymous said...

I think for dating the best thing would be for the dating parties to address each other in the third person in the way that certain talmidim address their Roshei Yeshiva. This would instill mutual respect. "Will the girl please pass me the salt?" or "does the boy enjoy learning Gemara more, or chumash more"? Note that the only proper answer to the foregoing is Gemara. Also note that the honoraria "the girl" and "the boy" may be replaced with "the maydel" and "the mentch" in certain circles, and in all circles if the dating parties are over the age of 21 "the woman" or "the man" may be used.

Mike S. said...

Of course, formality can go too far. My parents are happy to remind me that my first letter to them, at the age of 8, and after learning to write letters in school was addressed: "Dear Mr. and Mrs. S___". The stamp was 4 cents, so you can guess how long ago this might have been.

Many years ago I was a twenty something fellow with a new job, and at my place of employment was the father of a friend whose first name was the same as that of the head of the firm. I was walking with my immediate boss when we passed the two of them in the hall. I greeted the head of the firm by first name and my friend's father as Mr. ___, earning me a funny look from my boss. But that was how I had been introduced to them.

G*3 said...

Its weird that this is a "rule," but it is entirely possible to have a conversation with someone and never use their name. When my parents were married my father wasn't sure what to call his new in-laws. He never did figure it out, and managed to talk to them for thirty years without ever using a name.

(Yes, I know that's strange, but that's not the point...)

aml said...

I cannot stand to be called Mrs. L____. My friends' kids and my kids' friends call me Miss A_______ (first name). I'm also an administrator at a university (but not a PhD yet) and the (adult grad students, many of whom are older than me) call me Miss A_________. I make it a point of calling all professors Dr. or Prof. So-and-so in front of all students, but I call them by their first names when we are in a staff-only setting. I've found that being a young, woman non-engineer working primarily with older, male PhD engineer types... using their first names helps create a peer-to-peer relationship.

As for dating, I only dated two otherboys before my husband, so confusing names wasn't an issue. I wonder, if you are dating so many boys that you are forgetting their names... is the name really the issue, or is the fact that you have so many boys in your head the issue.

If it's an issue of becoming too familiar, I think this is just another example from what my husband and I like to call Crazy Land and, who cares anyway? Lettem' be crazy. I feel so far removed from these people, I feel like we're from two completely different worlds. I'm sure they'd feel the same thing about me if they would take a moment to step outside of Crazy Land. But we all know that rarely happens. So, let's stop comparing ourselves to the people of Crazy Land and deal with the real issues back here in reality.

Julie said...

The teachers and administrators at my children's schools call me "Mrs. [Husband's Last Name]." I really dislike it, particularly when it is an older person calling me Mrs. I hate the formality and the distance it creates. My name is Julie, not Mrs. Goldberg.

Miami Al said...

Julie, its a sign of respect AND distance. Now, if you've asked them to call you Julie, and they call you Mrs. Goldberg, particularly if Goldberg isn't your surname, that's not respect or decorum, that's being self serving.

Tamar said...

My kids call their teachers: HaMorah or Kavod HaRav. Sometimes the teachers request HaMorah Yafa or HaRav Aryeh, etc. Either way, as informal as Israel can be, these titles (with the "heh hayediah") are sincerely respectful AND loving, and I get a little thrill every time my kids address their teachers in this way. TOTALLY beats the way I grew up (when fresh-out-of-seminary girls 3-4 years my senior were addressed as "Miss Goldberg").

Ateres said...

My husband and I called each other by our first names on our shidduchim. It never even occurred to us to do otherwise.

And we are both generally careful not to address other non-related members of the opposite gender by their first names.

Lion of Zion said...

as far as i can remember, i always called all my parents friends by their first names (and their kids called my parents by first names). but my friends' parents that were not from my parents' circle were mr. and mrs.
recently a good friend's father told me to call by his first name, as i've known him for so many years and we're friendly. i will refer to him by his first name when talking to his wife (as in "hi, is jacob home"), but i can't bring myself to call him by his first name to his face.
my friends' kids call me by first name and i have no problem with my son calling them by first name. my sons' friends from outside my circle call me all sorts of things such as "david's daddy" or even "abba" (if they don't call their own father abba)

SephardiLady said...

It is always an odd feeling when another kid calls me Mommy. One of my kid's friends used to come over regularly and started to call me Mommy. I later realized she called her mother Ima and so I was just getting an affectionate name, not taking the place of her Mommy.

Lion of Zion said...

"so I was just getting an affectionate name"

oh i don't think he calls me abba as a sign of affection. just that he hears my son calling me abba and he thinks that's my name.

Anonymous said...

When one of my boys was little he was sitting on a friend's lap in shul. My husband asked him if he wanted to come to daddy (what he calls him) and was chastised with a loud and vociferous complaint of "I want to stay with abba!" so I do understand thinking that's the name.

The problem with your kids' friends calling you by your first name is when they get older and it grates a bit on the nerves. Having a 6 year old address me by first name is fine; I don't love it from the same child at 16 and often it is too late to backtrack. So I have gotten formal in my old age. sigh.