She had to be in the ballpark of about fifteen to seventeen. Bleached hair and a nose piercing, she had a good lathering of foundation to give her a bland hue only contrasted by the vibrant eyeshadow that shouldn’t see the light of day outside of a rave.

I handed her my ticket. She looked at me out of the corner of her eye, “Enjoy your meal today, Ma’am?”

It wasn’t the good Ma’am, the respectful salutation of status; no, it was the cold hard edge of ‘You’re old and I cannot relate to you’ Ma’am.

I gulped. “Fine.”

I remember the first time I called ma’am by an officious ID checker at the base commissary when I was about fourteen or fifteen. I knew that it was just a somewhat belittling, a mockry, but in the moment – in the moment – I felt it was right.

‘That’s darn right,’ I thought. ‘Ma’am! The glory that awaits, the pooooower.’ I was then asked by Mom to grab a shopping cart.

As I slunk out with my ticket and followed J to his car, I mumbled to him, “Am I that old?”

He whipped out the standard answer of, “You’re fiiiine.” 

“But…but…Ma’am… Ma’am is my mother.” 


6 Responses to Ma’am

  1. a lee says:

    Well, next time I see you on campus, I’ll make sure to refer to you as _kid_.

  2. firewings says:

    I’d appreciate it. ^_^

  3. Lisa says:

    Yeah, I totally get this one. Even at 40 years young, it’s always weird to hear.

  4. strangerandstranger says:

    Ma’am I wish I heard that more often at work.

  5. The Rebuker says:

    I think there’s a cool way to use “ma’am” with an exaggerated drawl. I use it on female library patrons who I think would appreciate it’s kitschy appeal. Maybe I’m just imagining that appeal and I’m really giving people a ma’am complex.

  6. thebutton says:

    When we reach our mid-20’s we fear feeling old. I like Miss…”Oh Miss, you dropped this.” Much better than “Hey lady” or “Ma’am”.

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