Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Yes, Ma'am?

I stepped out of the hotel lobby, turned and asked a bellboy for directions to a pond I saw when we arrived.  He gave me instructions and said, "have a nice jog, Miss!"

This single word, "Miss", set me lightly upon my jog with a spring in my step. I was a gazelle. If he had chosen to say "Ma'am", I would have been fighting my "ma'amness" the entire laborious run. Dragging my ageing, out-of-shape behind along while I sucked in air to fill my atrophied lungs.

The very word "Miss", when applied to me, makes me want to tip my face up, give my hair a little shake and bask in the word's glorious sunlit drops of goodness.

Yes, this is really how I feel, and this really did happen--minus the sunlit drops.

Maybe it's a thirties thing, why I feel such a visceral reaction to the word. At thirty-four I feel steady in the decade, no, more than steady--I feel empowered in this decade. I feel more motivated than I've been my entire life.

And yet. The word "Ma'am" lands like a thud in my ears and rounds my shoulders. While "Miss" nearly makes me giggle.

In my twenties I was exhaustingly introspective, always searching for "who I am". Now, I'm refreshingly onto "who I love" and "what I do". I feel better in these, happier. No matter where I'm at though, I will always love what stereotypically comes with youth--hope, expectation, energy, passion (even naive passion). Words associated with aging aren't as fancy-free--maturity, wisdom, self-actualization.

I don't care how self-actualized, mature or super-spiritual you are, "youth" always sounds good, "aging"-not so much. The word "Miss" nicely encapsulates all things young and lovely. "Ma'am"; formal, stodgy, critical. (Feel free to leave a comment below and make me aware of my "issues" I might need to seek counseling for!)

Despite all this, I fully intend to embrace aging with gusto. I'm going to wrap my arms around it like a big pillow (or so I say now.) A full-fledged fight against aging can only result in bad wardrobe choices.

One night this summer, for Jon's birthday, we had four generations of women gathered for dinner at Salsa Brava. My daughter, the youngest, Jon's grandmother the most "mature". Our young-man waiter addressed each of us as "Miss". I immediately loved him for this and had to tell him how he would get a bigger tip because of his word-choice.

As much as I am actively seeking maturity, wisdom and self-actualization in my life, I will always feel a little skinnier, prettier and sunnier when called "Miss".

Okay-so I'm dying to know if you disagree with me! Would you be offended if someone called you "Miss" over a certain age? Maybe it would come across as patronizing or disrespectful? Do tell...

I'm a fan of the artist who created the above work. I would love to see her paintings in person because they're mixed media and I'm imagining they have lots of wonderful depth and texture. Her shop on etsy is called Sleep and Her Sisters. Check it out.


Lizz @ Yes, and So is My Heart said...

You're right on with this! In fact, the only thing I don't love about Chick-fil-A is all the "Mam'ness" going on there. I'd be much more likely to add on a calorie-laden shake if they called me "miss."
Becca, your writing is great. Loving it!

Becca D said...

So true abot the shakes, Lizz!! Our Chick-fil-a folks aren't too bad with the ma'am thing--now its all clear to me why I gained an extra 15 lbs strictly on their milkshakes during my second pregnancy!

MicheleH said...

I agree! I really enjoyed reading this post. Great job friend!

Becky said...

Great post! I love it!! I agree with you that Miss is far preferable to Ma'am but sadly, people in Colorado Springs don't say either much. Maybe it's our lack of south-i-ness.

P.S. This sentence made me LOL: "A full-fledged fight against aging can only result in bad wardrobe choices." How true.

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