We fall into habits without realizing it. I was not really conscious of one habit that I have had for a number of years: addressing my 12-year-old grandson as "my friend," as in, "How are you today, my friend?" and, "Mark, my friend, it's good to see you."
I know that I have other ways of greeting Mark, but I now realize that I use the "my friend" address more often than not. I also realize that I seldom use that greeting with anyone else I know. I wonder why that is? I consider myself just as good a friend to my other three grandchildren (all girls), but I don't think my address to Mark is a sign of hidden sexism. From the moment he learned to print, Mark always signed his thank-you notes with "Your Friend, Mark" -- although early on, the spelling was much more inventive. I think that I subconsciously picked up that phrase and associated it with him.
Looking back, I find that I haved used the phrase "my friend" often when I am driving, and always when I come across a particularly stupid or reckless driver. I always use a steady, calm tone. "Go ahead, my friend, you're obviously in more of a rush than I am," "Oh, my friend, you really cut that one close," "I don't think I'm going to get close to you, my friend; you're all over the road," and so on. It just seems to me far more civilized than road rage or indiscriminately flipping the bird.
I wonder if it would be a better world if we just addressed everyone as "my friend."
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