Monday, July 20, 2009
Today I had occasion to be ordering something online from Harrods, the British department store. I got to the page where I had to enter my billing information. You know how most of these pages have a little dropdown box where you can pick from Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms, and (usually) None? Well, this was the honorific list in the dropdown on the Harrods form:
- Mr & Mrs
- The Honourable
- The Right Honourable
- Begum (A Muslim woman of high rank, often a widow -- I had to look it up)
- Doctor & Mrs
- His Royal Highness
- Her Royal Highness (Just in case the Queen is sitting at her computer and, you know, just has to order something from Harrods right now)
- Wing Commander
- Lieutenant Commander
- Lieutenant Colonel
I'm not making this up. Go to Harrods and toss something in your shopping cart and start the checkout process to see for yourself.
But, seriously (or not), a list this extensive cries out for mocking. For example, there's Her Royal Highness, but why isn't there a His Imperial Highness? I'm not sure there are any sitting emperors in the world right now, but you never can tell when one might sprout up and just have to order a stuffed bear. Also, what if the Pope suddenly needed to order from Harrods? Nary a His Holiness in sight. And he can't even delegate the job to a cardinal or bishop, as there is no Most Reverend, only a run-of-the-mill so-not-the-most Reverend.
I do like that Wing Commander made the list, but I find it odd, given that Britain built its empire and eminence on naval power, that Admiral was omitted. Do Admirals not shop at Harrods? Or does Harrods think that Admirals are not capable of placing orders online.
Finally, I must decry the social inequalities perpetuated on this list. For example, there's a Doctor & Mrs and a Doctors, but no Doctor & Mr (or would it be Mr & Doctor?). And gays are slighted, too. There's a Mr & Mrs for hetero couples, but nothing for gay couples (Messrs for two gay men or Mmes for a lesbian couple). Doesn't Harrods know that gays wield a lot of spending power?