I was waiting for the boneless chicken plate lunch I had just ordered from Rainbow Drive-In when a young guy in a baseball cap cocked to one side walked up to me and said the one word no thirty-something woman wants to hear.
He called me “ma’am.”
As in the abbreviated version of “madam.” Which, by definition, can mean either a respectful term for “lady” or the female head of a house of prostitution. Take your pick.
Neither definition really appealed — or applied — to me.
Of course, I went directly to Twitter, posting, “Damn, I just got called “ma’am” again.” A few people responded, offering emotional support and words of advice. To which I posed the follow-up question, “Since when did I become a ma’am?”
Lunarre Omura (@lunarre) quickly responded: “A couple years after you stop getting carded buying booze… and a few years before you stop giving a crap.”
Somewhere between earning a master’s degree and getting arthritis in my spine, I went from the young kid in the newsroom to “aunty.” And it’s a bit depressing.
Written by a woman who’s in her 50s and has a son almost my age.
And here’s what she wrote about being called “ma’am” by a server at a restaurant:
Would I be ok being “Ma’am” at 90? Sure, that will be ok. 80? Probably. 70? Possible. 60? Unlikely. 50-something? What was it about being called ‘Ma’am’ that made me want to punch the waiter in the face?
I wonder how she’d feel if she were called ma’am at my age!
Look, I’m not afraid of getting older. In fact, I’ve enjoyed my 30s more than any other decade so far. I feel like people take me seriously, they value my opinion, I’m not just some young kid who doesn’t know anything. I’m 38. I’ve lived.
And while I’m no spring chicken, I’m not a dying hen waiting to be plucked and deboned, either.
Call me ma’am when I’m 60 and deserve it. For now, Catherine is fine.