Thursday, October 10, 2002

mr. alfar

It’s inevitable. In formal correspondence, initial meetings with clients and phone calls from suppliers, among others, I am referred to as “Mr. Alfar”.

I always prefer to be called just “Dean”, but sometimes I become “Mr. Alfar.” It feels odd because first, it makes me sound so old, and second because the “Mr. Alfar” I know is father.

People who knew my parents when they were younger come up to me and say “You are the splitting image of your dad” or “You walk like him”. I guess the genetic imprint is strong.

I once read someone who wrote (and I paraphrase from flawed memory) “I wore a shirt and saw my father’s hand come out of the sleeve” or something like that (if you know who said this, please let me know). This elegant turn of phrase encapsulates the feeling I have right now.

And now I am a dad myself.

Identity is a peculiar thing. You spend years trying to become yourself, a unique creature, but ultimately you are reduced by society and biology to the basics: your father’s son, your daughter’s father, your wife’s husband.

We cannot escape the imposition of relationships because they partially determine identity. I may be “Dean” to my friends, but I’ll always be “Mr. Alfar” to the bank manager or to nurses at the hospital.

(Sometimes, even my first name is treated as a title – people occasionally mistake me for the Dean of some college. I realized this when they kept calling me “Dean Alfar”.)


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