By Any Other Name

What Mel Did - rose, by any other name
Photo credit: Melinda Fargo

At a recent hospital appointment, the medical assistant asked my date of birth, which I gave. He looked up and down from his clipboard a few times.

“Are you sure?”

“Am I sure of what?”

“Your birthdate.”

I pause before answering, wary of saying too many words too quickly in a short space of time, especially given I’m in a hospital environment. Enough said.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Okay, if you say so.”

I didn’t so much as my birth certificate said so, but I let it go.

“Is there any chance you could be pregnant, Melinda?”

“No.”

“Any chance at all?”

“Unless someone came and put a womb in whilst I was brushing my teeth this morning, yes, I’m sure.”

(Right there, an example of too many words, said too quickly, in a short space of time.)

“No, you’re right,” he continued, “you’re not of childbearing age.”

At this, I searched my handbag for an Olympic committee to give me a gold medal for keeping my mouth tightly shut.

Even at the risk of sounding old, this is my muse this week as I wonder whether over-familiarity is now a thing.

Whilst I’m not a particularly buttoned-up grown-up, there is comfort in people addressing me commensurate with the situation we find ourselves in. In a medical environment, I prefer to be addressed by my title and surname – Mrs Fargo.

Why?

Because I prefer formality in a medical setting. It just feels more efficient and less likely that Doctor Feelgood will fluff my diagnosis or confuse my tests with someone else’s. Admittedly, this has only happened once but, coincidentally or not, I was on a first name basis with the doctor who did confuse my test results. I remember at that appointment, Mike* and I had discussed all manner of things – including how he could get into blogging!

But I take some comfort that my feelings are perhaps not coloured by my age. For instance, my son Hart is known as “Harty” more often than not. Come to find out, he didn’t normally expect anyone but family and the closest of friends to address him in that way.

But in whatever derivative, first name terms imply a closeness and familiarity which is usually earned, conferred or confined to intimates. The chap at the centre of this muse was not my intimate, no matter (or especially since?) he was charged with investigating the most intimate parts of my body.

I did eventually ask the medic to address me as “Mrs Fargo,” which, to his credit, he was absolutely fine with. Thereafter, his commentary was friendly but not over-familiar. What’s in a name, indeed.

Although, I did contradict myself later when speaking with the bank.

“How would you prefer I address you? As Melinda or Mrs Fargo?”

“You can call me anything you like as long as you get ABC Company to return the monies they fraudulently took from my account.”

“Okay, Mrs Fargo,” he said, “let’s see what we can do.”

And I felt reassured this polite man would indeed be able to sort me out.

 

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