This blog had 16 hits last Friday. If you were one of them, I apologize for the dust and cobwebs. Let’s clear them away and settle in again, shall we?
I went on a late night chips-and-salsa run this evening…
<instant shiny thing> Late night, she says. It’s 11:45 p.m. Oh, how the mighty Night Owl has fallen!
Anyway, the chips and salsa run. The clerk – who, while probably not 40, was almost definitely at least 30, putting her firmly in the same age range as me (that range being old enough that I don’t feel compelled to refer to her as “the little girl behind the counter” unlike the 20-something “little girl who works at the gas station”), addressed me 5 times in 5 minutes with the following title: Miss
Good evening Miss. Will that be all Miss? Have a good evening Miss. You get the picture. And I was irked.
Miss, for me, conjures a picture of someone somewhat like Little Bo Beep. You know, skirted and bonneted, demure, quiet, content to sit placidly in the meadow while her sheep get up to who knows what, who knows where.
“Miss” is also what children begin to call all their teachers somewhere around the First Grade when they realize they’re going to have a dozen-plus teachers in their lifetimes and by calling them all “Miss” you don’t have to remember anyone’s name.
I am not the Little Bo Peep type. And throughout all my years of volunteering at the children’s school, I was always tempted to smack the children that called me “Miss.” (I didn’t though)
This comes on the heels of my just-today realization that the government addresses me as “Madam.” Me and my government, we correspond – and every single letter that is addressed to me personally regarding my personal government business follows my name and address with “Dear Madam.”
I am suddenly highly annoyed by this. I am not a Madam, in any sense of the word. I’m probably over-reacting, but I find it archaic, aloof, and somewhat demeaning. Like someone’s looking pointedly over their pince-nez while saying it. They obviously know my first name – why don’t they use it?
Mrs, I’m a little vanilla on. It doesn’t bother me, per se, but it doesn’t warm my heart, either. I’ve never been offended when the children’s friends address me as Mrs; I can appreciate that they believe it’s a necessary indication of respect for my adult-ness. But it’s okay with me if they call me by my first name too, particularly children of friends who are often more like family.
Ma’am leaves me cold too. See Little Bo Peep, only retired.
But it doesn’t leave much for strangers with whom I come into casual contact, like store clerks. I once frequented a store where the clerk called me “dear.” Didn’t bother me a whit – I liked being someone’s “dear” even if I was one of hundreds.
I tend to call people “hon,” as in “honey” (NOT “hunny”, thanks Internet for perpetuating another mis-spelling) including the girls’ boyfriends, which probably embarasses the boys, so I’ll work on that. But I’m sure they’d feel just as awkward if I suddenly started calling them “Sir.”
Perhaps I’ll just call everyone Little Bo Peep(or Little Boy Blue) - has a nice ring, don’t you think?