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Trying to take ‘Mister’ like a man

It’s a weird moment in a man’s life when he ceases to be himself and becomes a “Mister.”

All my life, I’ve been Jimmy and everyone has called me that – until now. More and more I’m confronted with “Mr. Alford.”

It’s almost the Mr. Hyde to my Dr. Jekyll … or something like that … All I know is, I don’t see “Mr. Alford” when I look in the mirror.

I call this the “Mr.” Syndrome, which incidentally would be a great name for a super villain.

This new syndrome hit me full force the other night when I “volunteered” – or, more appropriately, was volunteered by my wife to take photos of an eighth-grade graduation.

These kids call my wife Mrs. Alford, so they call me Mr. Alford. I know it’s a sign of respect and they are following orders, but every Mr. Alford smacked of “You’re an old man … and why are you wearing Converse? Don’t you need orthotics for your aging feet?”

And inside my head, I shriek like a little girl and cower. “I’m not getting old!”

But on the outside, I smile and nod and continue on with my business.

Maybe I need to see a doctor. This can’t be normal. Everyone ages and being called Mr. is nothing to get bent out of shape about. Right?

I know I certainly wouldn’t want to go in the opposite direction.

There are people who want to relive the glory days, sport the letterman jacket, slick back their hair and hop in a black TransAm. Personally, I think that sounds dreadful.

I’m not saying I didn’t have a happy childhood, but good Lord, please don’t make me go back. That’s when a person makes all the mistakes that shape them into the adult they were meant to be.

Woe is me if I were doomed to repeat every fumble, busted lie, and embarrassing foible.

Of course the question would also be “What if you knew then, what you know now?”

That could be fine, I guess, but really I think that would be even worse. I’m a firm believer that my life is pretty much like a 20-year old movie. The veneer of classic cinema has not yet glossed it over. When I watch it, the clothes just look awful and the hair is hilarious.

And just like that 20-year-old movie, when you try to re-watch it, it just doesn’t hold up and you end up wishing for some “Law and Order” reruns.

Think about it. Going back in time would mean you’d have to witness all the embarrassing things your friends are doing – things that, at the time, seemed just fine. You of course would seem like the most boring person ever, because you’re “responsible” or you just know that eating all that ice cream and riding the roller coaster will not end well.

The all-night bender will have lost its appeal. The lovers you chased will have the harsh light of hindsight on them. They may look good now, but you know exactly how they will look, years down the road.

I guess I’ll stick with aging, maybe not gracefully but steadily and assuredly.

That still doesn’t mean I have to enjoy being called “Mr.”

Jimmy Alford is a graphic designer, reporter and photographer for the Messenger.

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