Sir Dude

Over the years, America has gotten some great things from Great Britain. Our freedom as a nation is one, fish and chips is the other. Oh, I know, there’s also been the Beatles, Shakespeare and Elizabeth Hurley. Let’s not forget mad cow disease, the Spice Girls (one and the same, maybe?) and Princess Diana collector plates.

There is one more thing I think we need to borrow from the Queen’s subjects: bestowed titles of nobility.

For centuries, the British have revered prominent national figures with honorary knighthood. There’s Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Richard Branson and many more. Women who are honored are called Dames, but we don’t tend to hear the title used as often (maybe the women are more humble). Dame Jane Goodall and Dame Julie Andrews are two examples.

I tried to research how these titles work – they are intertwined with royalty (Duke) and other honors (Baron and Lady) like meatballs in spaghetti. As with many things British, I just don’t understand. After all, they drive on the wrong side of the road. I guess getting honorary knighthood is kind of like our Congressional Medal, but America doesn’t give recipients a cool title.

Why not? I think it’s time we stand up for great Americans and recognize them for achievements and contributions, too. We need to borrow this tradition from the UK. Let’s find ways to honor pioneers like Neil Armstrong, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg (who already is an honorary knight, he just doesn’t get to be “Sir” because he’s a Yank), and, of course, the guy who invented the remote control.

One problem, though, we cannot call the men Sir; that’s already taken. Instead, I’m suggesting Mister. It’s a title we don’t use much anymore, so it’s available. It is a term of respect. (Except when your mom yells at you: “You get the room cleaned up, Mister!)

Anyway, we could always refer to honorees as Mister: Mister Bill Cosby, Mister Ken Burns, and Mister Tom Petty. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) The problem lies with the female equivalent. Missus? Miss? Mizz? I just don’t know. I thought about Aunt (pronounced On-t, not ant) because everyone speaks of fondly of his or her aunts. But that might lead to calling men Uncle, which is just too weird (or our uncles are just too weird).

I want the titles to be uniquely American. We don’t have any knights, never did. We had cowboys, but Poke is not a good title. We had pioneers, but no. No to squatter, Yankee or practically any other title I could think of. Then it hit me: we should call our honorees Dudes.

It’s classic American, first used to denote well-dressed city dwellers, particularly Easterners in the more rustic and rural west. Since then, thanks to the surfer culture (another American original), “Dude” has become a simple and regular part of our lexicon. It could be appropriate for young or old, male or female, rich or poor. So I say, let’s do Dude!

Instead of knighthood, we would have Dudehood. It would be nobility American style. Think how impressed everyone around the globe will be when we introduce our brightest and our best: Ladies and gentlemen, Dude Warren Buffet. Presenting Dude Bruce Springsteen. Please welcome Dude Oprah Winfrey. It would be a prestigious American distinction to be “Duded.”

We just have to be careful. Dude someone too early and there might be problems (Lindsey Lohan, Milli Vanilli and most former governors of Illinois, for example).  Of course, we can always just repeal the E, making them a Dud.

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