I don’t recall the first time I was addressed as “ma’am”. I do recall the shock and horror, however. I also recall tipping the rearview mirror a few minutes after that callous assault and having a closer look – hoping to see something easily corrected in my ma’am-magnet appearance. Unsure what prompted the name-calling, I returned home and checked my most recent Mary Kay brochure for a de-ma’aming lotion. To my horror, I realized they did not offer one.
Why is that, I wonder?
I understand the word ma’am is intended as a sign of respect. I appreciate the fact that respectful terms readily slip from the lips of younger people when addressing… elders… but when did I – ME – become an ‘elder’?
It happened again last night. We drove upstate to the Hudson River Valley. LOVE it there. If ever you are in New York, yes, see the city, but do not forget to pre-plan a Hudson River Valley tour.
The weather was perfect – just cool enough to relish a long deep breath, yet warm enough to make you smile, close your eyes and lift your face to the sky. Gorgeous. We visited sites from the 16, 17 and 1800’s and marveled at how far we’ve come in a relatively short time. We – I – felt proud to be alive now, in this day, despite the crap going on in the world.
High from the freedom and fun of the day, we ended our lovely trip by going out to dinner in the area. We dined al fresco – on a charming patio, down a few steps from the restaurant’s main building. I couldn’t help but admire all of the very young servers in that restaurant who had to run up and down those steps repeatedly. I admired their lean bodies, high energy and perky… smiles. They were so sweet and so friendly that in response, I felt young. I felt happy. I felt free and good.
After our heavenly meal, I considered dessert but was unsure what to order. I waited while Hubby and Daughter made their choices heard and quietly decided on something rich and creamy for myself. The very thought of it had me sitting taller in my seat, eager to state my preference.
And then our server turned to me and said, “And for you, ma’am?”
I blinked. Deflated. Resisted the urge to glance behind me at the other woman, the woman I wished this server had been addressing. I smiled, sat back in my seat and said, “Just coffee for me please.” Note, I left out the word, ‘decaf’.
The coffee was just right, like most everything else we’d experienced that day. Of course, a rich slice of cheesecake would have made it better. Alas… I had ma’am on the mind.
I have to be honest here… I really don’t care how its use is intended, but someone, somewhere has to teach our young people that “ma’am” is a four-letter word.