Sir William

Or how I came to be a member of the peerage

By William Wetherall

I hereby inform the gods that be -- who apparently have lost interest in human affairs, having long ago lost control over human nature -- that hereafter I am to be addressed as Sir William Wetherall, or just Sir William to friends, relatives, and friendly service industry staff.

I acquired this title because I was recently given an opportunity to knight myself. The Social Science Journal of Japan insisted that I up-date my on-line profile as its database design had changed. Subscriber records now included a mandatory "Title" field.

I was required to select a title from a list in a box. I don't like "Dr" or "Professor" or "Mr" or "Mrs" or "Ms" or "Reverend" -- and there was no "Lady" or "Lord" or "Esquire" -- nor suffixes like "-san" or "-kun" or even "-dono" -- and no "Nothing" or "Other".

But there was "Sir".

It's not often I have a choice to be whatever I want. My mother raised me to say "Sir" to older men and strangers, and since I was probably older than the creator of the form, and a stranger to the subscription list manager, protocol seemed to require that they address me "Sir".

SSJJ, a British publication, does not yet seem to vet its subscriber profiles. Someday it may link its database with the United Kingdom's registry of people duly knighted by the Queen, and my title will be flagged as suspicious. Scotland Yard will then inform me that I must stop using the title or it will seek to extradite me from Japan for posing as a member of the aristocracy.

The United States, though, will reach me first. One morning I will wake up and find my home surrounded by US Federal agents and tanks. They will ram my door, haul me out of my futon, cuff my hands and ankles, fly me to Washington, D.C., try me before a jury of peers -- who, proud of their titles of address, will convict me of violating the spirit of the US Constitution, which frowns on Americans holding titles of nobility.