• Elijah Ricks


When I was a kid, I called all the adults I knew by their last name, preceded by the appropriate “Mr.” or “Mrs.”, or whatever else. I did this because it just seemed strange to me to use adults’ first names. I recognized that there was a difference in authority and respect when calling someone by their title. It was interesting, though, around my 19th birthday. Around then, it began feeling strange to address adults using their titles. I felt as if I were transitioning into an environment of peers. I was no longer an older child, but a young adult.

It was the same in college. As an undergraduate, it felt awkward to address my professors as anything but “Dr.” or “Professor”. As a graduate student, however, it feels much more natural to use first names with my professors. I have advanced from a mere student to more of a colleague, perhaps.

In any case, it hit Avey out of nowhere on Friday that she and I are now at the same level, apparently:

That’s just a brief sample I was able to catch of about 45 minutes of talking about whatever she could and throwing in “Eli” at the end of the sentence. I heard my name probably 200 times in those few minutes.

On the one hand, I thought it was really cute, and a great thing to learn. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder what had happened; did she just rise up several levels of social status, or did I fall?