Thursday, September 17, 2009

You are old, Father Wagman

My older son has a new bride. Consequently, a point of decorum has arisen: how should the young lady address me? Before the wedding, she favored the polite use of "Mr. Wagman." Now that she has joined the family, a more familiar name is called for. I am fusty enough to be uneasy about being addressed by my given name. Being called "Father" would be imprecise, and a compromise such as "Father Wagman" sounds quaint. Besides, "Father Wagman" reminds me of the 1865 Lewis Carroll poem from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

First two stanzas:

"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

I'm sure that the young lady and I will put our heads together and select a fitting name for me.