Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank you, ma'am, may I have another?

A Starbucks barista handed me my change yesterday and said, "Thank you, miss."

I nearly kissed her on the mouth.

"Miss." What a lovely term to hear when you are on the other side of the IHOP senior menu.

Because what I hate with a passion? Is being called "ma'am."

Ugh. Ick. Feh. Gag. Barf.

DON'T call me that. My 78-year-old pole-dancing MOTHER doesn't even want to be called that.

But that does beg the question: What should we women of a certain age (or respectability) be called?

Because honestly? "Miss," though kind and gentle on the aging ears, is probably not appropriate for a married mother of five -- all but one of whom is over 18!

Now guys have it a little easier: "Sir."

You may think that "sir" is your father. But think about it. It's also a title for a person who has been recognized by the British monarchy. Pretty special, huh? A picture of distinguishment and virtue.

But "ma'am"? Someone's aged grandma, right?

So I was thinking about the alternatives, cuz, really? There aren't a lot of choices.

The feminine equivalent of "sir" (anglophilically speaking) would be "dame."


"Thank you, dame" just seems a little creepy and brings to mind some ship-bound sailors who are starved for some feminine attention after being shipwrecked in an aging Rodgers and Hammerstein production.

Of course there is always the Jerry Lewis way: Hey, LAY-DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! (With apologies, of course, to Mr Lady, who IN NO WAY sounds like Jerry Lewis -- I don't think.)

Poo. There is just no good answer to this one, except to continue to get the ickies when some pimply-faced teenage grocery store bagger asks me if I need any help out, MA'AM!!!!

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On another completely unrelated topic, linked only by the obtuse coffee reference in the first line of this post:

The coffee from the lunchroom machines at my office has a reputation for being N.A.S.T.Y.

It is not undeserved.


Imagine my surprise and delight when, after sliding my dollar into the magic slot, lights blinked and beepers beeped and my portrait of George Washington slid back out at me.

"Winner! Winner! Winner!" the machine burbled with delight.

"Whoohoo," exclaimed an excited Janet, always loving a free cup of coffee (or whatever that crap is really).

So I watched the cup fill ... and then stop.

At about the two-thirds mark.

Yes, I got a free cup of coffee from The Man this morning.

But he cheated me out of my just desserts.

Wait. Did someone just say desserts?

Anyone for pie?


Crazed Mom said...

I'll have a generous slice of banana cream pie please. No I'm not the J who spammed you.

Carolie said...

Oh, but I LOVE being called ma'am! Then again, I grew up in the south, yet HATE being called "Miss Carolie." I'm either Carolie, Aunt Carolie, or Mrs. MyLastName. To me, "miss" is a teenager, and ever so slightly condescending. Aren't connotations interesting?

Ma'am is actually "madam," so maybe you can think of a snooty butler saying "very good, madam. And would madam like a gooey chocolate dessert with her free coffee?"

Mr Lady said...

My children HAVE to call any adult they do not know Sir or Ma'am. Starbucks chick, whoever. Thank you, ma'am. Any adult they DO know must be called Mr or Miss, unless they are family. You would be ma'am the first time they met you, and Miss Janet from then on out. It's POLITE.

As for adults calling each other sir or ma'am, I dunno, but I do appreciate the nod at manners, you know?

ChrisB said...

Here in some shops we get called 'madam' and we all know some very infamous madams!!

Kelley said...

I am thinking 'Hottie' would be appropriate.

"Thankyou for opening an account at our bank Hottie"

nikki said...

I like "Hot Mamma" or "Queen" even works well.

The Laundress said...

Ma'am burns my ass.

I hate it.

Personally, I happen to like sexy beast. But I don't usually get called that...anymore.

I'll take hey you, or thanks sister...over ma'am any day.

LceeL said...

Personally, I call 'em 'toots' (rhymes with foot(s)). I only get hit once in a while.

HRH said...

Free coffee (or whatever it is) today from the man...who knows what tomorrow holds for you Missy! Is Missy a bit much? Ok, I take it back.

Janet said...

I get ma'am'd all the freakin' time. I'm not even 40 yet. It must be the gaggle of kids around my legs. It screams MA'AM.

robinellablog said...

"when some pimply-faced teenage grocery store bagger asks me if I need any help out, MA'AM!!!!"

I think I would take advantage of this and accept the offer. Of course, I am lazy like that and like being treated like royalty. Even if it is old - as in the current Queen.

Sandy C. said...

I have to agree that "queen" would be awful nice :)

The barista girl at my Starbucks called me Ma'am today, and got my order wrong :( Boo.

Jenni said...

I have never liked being called Ma'am--even when I was 20. It is short for madame, so I suppose they could say that, but that implies other things to my mind.

I don't make my kids use Mr. and Mrs. either. I make them find out what the adult prefers to be called. I don't like being called Mrs. B. and I know there are other adults who feel the same.

Now hottie would be nice! Except I don't want dh to feel obligated to call other women that. That would really piss me off.

Burfica said...

Being that I grew up in Arizona, with cowboys all around. Ma'am is actually a very polite word for any woman over 18. So...I don't mind so much.

Immoral Matriarch said...

I'm hungry. And don't call me ma'am either.

Kaytabug said...

How about MILF?

I am alone in liking madam?

Am I just a dirty girl? Don't answer that!

Kate said...

I have experienced this too - and I'm not entirely sure when I crossed over into ma'am territory...but I think it was a while ago. During my maternity leave right after I had my twins I was at a Starbucks at the mall (feeling very much a ma'am after maybe two hours of sleep the night before), and the barista called me miss. THEN someone asked me how I could keep up with the newborn twins and another toddler at home, then added "Oh - but you're so young." It was possibly the best day of my life - or at least my best trip to Starbucks.

Janet said...

We're in the south. We operate like Mr. Lady: everyone is sir or ma'am until you know them, and then they're Miss or Mr. first name. Except the doctors. Doctors are always Dr. Last Name. Except for our friends Amylyn and Hugh because they were our friends before they were doctors and they're both younger than me and I can do what I want.

The other day in the grocery store the clerk saw the kids' picture and asked if they were my grandchildren. When I said, no they're mine, she made it worse by saying, in a voice of the most profound disbelief I have ever heard, "Really?"

It has begun. My kids do have friends whose grandparents are younger than me. It was bound to happen.

Janet said...

I forgot to add that around HERE, everyone calls you "hon" or "sweetie". It matters not what gender either party happens to be. The Mountain Man was quite startled when an elderly male store owner called him "hon" one day.

Anonymous said...

I don't like ma'am because of the sexist, ageist connotations. But I think most people are trying to be polite. I honestly think mostly teenagers use it to identify people they think are old or not cute. They certainly don't call each other Sir or Ma'am. I am pretty much used to it now. I'm ma'am age, but I'm not 110 and I am a sexy beast. So I don't let it bother me...

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