Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How Old Are You?

At work today, the first four calls I answered were from polite people that called me, "ma'am." Let me remind you: I don't have grey hair, I don't have children, and I am not married. I'm not a ma'am yet. I'm still in my twenties, so I'm hardly even close to ma'am-status. Sure, these four callers were trying to be proper, and they were all easy, friendly people. I'm still not a "ma'am."

It's funny how we all look at age differently. Even individually, our views on age and what age means change. I used to hate it when my parents would tell me, "you're not old enough to do that." As much as I'd beg and plead, they never gave in. Age was always a mark of "can" and I never could. Then, as I grew up, I began to hear, "you're too old for that," as if having a birthday somehow made me ineligible to do something anymore.

After high school and college, the meaning of age has changed for me. I used to believe age didn't matter. I was adamant that age wasn't a reflection of ability, maturity, or intelligence. I'm learning how wrong that belief can be. I have friends who are younger, and as I see them learning important life lessons, I'm reminded of my own trials. I remember how it felt to be young and naïve. But I still am young, and in many ways, I'm still as innocent as I was at fifteen.

Having dated someone more than twelve years older than me, I've learned how age differences (and generational separation) can strain a relationship. Having worked at great length with people more than seventy years older than me, I've also learned how incredible the age gap can be. I can't say that I will never date someone much older than me, but it isn't likely. I also can't say I enjoy having little in common with my coworkers due to a twenty-five year age gap.

Youth has it's rewards. Then again, so does an age of experience. I like to think I'm a good balance of both right now. But I'm still not a "ma'am."


chris farrell said...

Though fast youth's glorious fable flies,
View not the world with worldling's eyes;
Nor turn with weather of the time.
Foreclose the coming of surprise:
Stand where Posterity shall stand;
Stand where the Ancients stood before,
And, dipping in lone founts thy hand,
Drink of the never-varying lore:
Wise once, and wise thence evermore.

Anonymous said...

yes ma'am

whatever you say,ma'am

Jenny said...

I've been called ma'am a few times, and my first impression was not welcoming. But now that I am older, I understand more about good language and respect, and I wish more men would bestow on women.
Being called ma'am is a sign of respect. The queen of England is to be addressed as ma'am after an initial introduction. I am the daughter of a king, why should I be treated any differently? And, it is much better than being called eye candy, chick, girl, woman, and the like. So ma'am isn't bad, especially when you're on the phone and the speaker can't identify your age.

Anonymous said...

Oh brother. Let me call you a Waaaaahmbulance. Ma'am.

Shannon said...

I get called ma'am quite a bit even though I'm only 36 years old. It always pisses me off, but nothing made me more mad than the day my husband and I walked into a small shop along the coast and the shopkeeper mistook me for his mother. Arghh!!!!