When I first got married, the first shock that confronted me was when I went to the grocery store.
The grocery boy called me “ma’am”. I looked around. By golly, he was talking to me.
The ‘ma’am” moniker continued, and eventually I became accustomed to it. The change from being single and “Hey, Annie” almost immediately changed to ‘ma’am’ after marriage.
How on earth did anyone know that I was now a “new category”?
Years went by.
“Mrs.” Became the address de mode. I was now, Mrs. This, and Mrs. That. Then, our society spiraled into a nosedive downhill and lost all its formality. All conventionality disappeared with the new “relaxed” society and I was just “Annie.”
I didn’t particularly like that custom either. Because by then, I was a teacher, and I felt that protocol would suggest that I be addressed as Mrs. Tinderbust. It seemed more respectful. So, as a Spanish teacher, I went by the proper title of Senora T. That worked.
Respect and acknowledgement of seniority was preserved! The address seemed to fit. My students were comfortable with that almost-formal address.
I always wondered as we all do, what it would be like to get old…or “older”, or “more mature.”
And how would I act and how would others react?
I soon found out that I don’t feel any different than I did at 39, (my “system restore” point).
I did discover, however, that my thought processes, conclusions, view on many diverse subjects, assessments, and experiences did determine how I reacted and how I conducted my life. That is one probable definition of maturity.
I felt much the same otherwise. My outer “garment” was getting holes in it, but the inside was still the same ME.
I learned to define others, not based on their beauty or lack of it; their outward, physical bodies, fat, thin, crippled, or athletic…by their inward qualities. I realized who they “really” were.
Much too often, we decide too early who a person might be, and we find later that we were way off course in that assessment.
But I digress.
I soon realized I had arrived at that point called “old.”
My reflection in the mirror did not lie. Neither did my wrinkles! It was not a surprise. It was a psychological adjustment.
In the distant past, I subconsciously thought older people had always been that way. They were who they were. I was young. And never would that change. Society was made up of kids, teens, middle-agers, and old.
The final clue began to manifest itself.
I became aware of my age when sales people, food-counter servers, waitresses, and store clerks began to call me “sweetie,” and “young lady.”
Yes. That’s right. During all of those many first 60 years, no one addressed me as “sweetie,” or “young lady.”
Now, it seemed, every time I went anywhere, I would hear it — “Déjà vu all over again,” as Yogi Berra once said.
And, like those early years, I look over my shoulder to see whom they are addressing. I then realize it’s ME.
I have gone from “ma’am,” “Mrs,” “Senora T,” to “Sweetie,” and “young lady.”
Can it be that I look sweet? Can it be that I look loving? Or do I look frail and almost ready to kick the can?
Whatever it is, I accept it. It’s OK. I am comfortable with that address.
And in the meantime, I am going to use that honored position to use more kindness, and be more spontaneous to those who are so kind to address me this way.
It’s an evolutionary thing, sweetie!
“A Woman’s View” is Judi Tabler’s reflection of her experiences and events. She is a wife, mother, writer, teacher, grandmother, and even a great grandmother. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.