Not Just Semantics

These days I think a lot about the things here in L.A. that I’m truly going to miss. The weather (of course), the produce (good god!) , my sister and my friends. What’s nice is that there are a variety of things that I really won’t miss.

I’m not sure why I make a big deal out of this but it drives me crazy. Everywhere here I’m an over-the-hill, past-my-prime “ma’am.” This is one of my least favorite words on the planet. It makes my skin crawl. I used to feel bad when a woman shopping in the same store as me would be approached by a salesperson using the M-word. I knew it would only be a matter of time in which I became initiated in the “ma’am” club. I know I’m 35 but I don’t feel anywhere near that age (as you well know!). Being called ma’am makes me feel like I’m 70. Like I should have a walker and lack the ability to aggressively chew food.

I'm hoping to be this spry when I'm utilizing a walker (hopefully many years from now).

I know I’m being ridiculous but I can’t seem to shake it.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that while I’m part of the “ma’am” brigade in L.A., when I step on a plane heading almost anywhere else, I suddenly become a “miss.” When I’m asked by a flight attendant if I’d “like something to drink, ‘ma’am’?” The answer is usually a dirty look and a hasty “no.” But when I’m a “miss”, the answer magically becomes a smile and a sweet “sure.” How is it that this word has so much power over me? Or should I say, words?

In Michigan, at least thus far, I am still a “miss.” I know it’s superficial but this is one thing that I’m looking forward to. That I’m not really that old yet. That as a “miss” I’ve still got some youthful spunk (I could go down an ugly road here but am refraining….you’re welcome).

So in the spirit of utilizing my still working power to eat a variety of tastes and textures, I give you last night’s dinner:

Buffalo Broccoli Stir Fry

Broccoli, shrooms, onion, green pepper, buffalo, garlic, ginger laying on a bed of brown rice.


I’ve been craving this kind of dish for a while now and according to my acupuncturist, if I’m craving something like specific meat or veggies, I should honor my body in that it needs a specific vitamin or mineral. I honored myself with not one but two bowls of this tastiness. As you probably know, I’m not a big meat eater and hadn’t had any meat in any meal for over a week, as it’s something that I just usually don’t want or crave to eat. But this buffalo was tender and fantastic–even a “ma’am” would have had no problem with chewing, as it kind of melted in your mouth. I only needed a few slices mixed in with all the veggies and this “miss” felt totally satisfied.

Fess up. What are your thoughts on being called “ma’am” or “miss”?



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9 responses to “Not Just Semantics

  1. We don’t have “ma’am” and “miss” in Germany, but we have a difference in talking to people as “du” (informal) or “Sie” (formal). Adult people are usually talked to as “Sie”, and I remember when I got 16, the teachers suddenly had to talk to us with “Sie” instead of “du”. It felt weird. It still feels weird if somebody speaks to me as “Frau …”, it sounds too adult. (There’s the word “Fräulein” in German, but it’s oldfashioned and not used nowadays. It sounds too 1950.)

    Love the stir fry! Never had buffalo, but I totally love stir fries like that.

    • Frau reminds me a tad of Ma’am. I took German all through high school (4 years) and then 2 in college and I miss being called Fraulein (sorry no umlauts that I can find). I thought it was really cute. I guess it does sound old-fashioned.

  2. Good lord, I’ve mentioned this before. I hate ma’am, so so much. I don’t know if it’s regional or what, but maybe it’s because LA is dominated by teeny boppers–or old hags with surgery to try and look like teeny boppers? In Michigan, we’re all just preserved from the cold temps, so you don’t look like a ma’am until a bit later on 😉

    Anyway, the neighbor kids call me Miss Abby, but I’m sure the other neighbors call me the “Anti-social, single old spinster” behind my back.

    Another one I dislike is being called “sweetie” or “honey” by a woman who is younger than me. Not gonna fly…

    • I second you on the “sweetie” and “honey” and that makes me remember how much I dislike it when people who are either younger than me or right around my age refer to a group I’m in as “kids.” Like, “what are you kids up to?” Seriously annoys me.

      I think being called Miss Abby is so cute! Screw the other neighbors 🙂

  3. I hate being Ma’am. So much.
    But on the flip side I also get annoyed when I’m Miss instead of Mrs (teaching = I get called Miss L and Mrs L far more than any normal person). Kids it’s one thing, but when adults in the school do it I get bothered.

    • My mom was a teacher for over 40 years and I remember a few instances in which she’d have to correct kids or their parents, “It’s Mrs….” I would bet nowadays that even after a correction, many of the kids and their parents will revert back to “miss” over and over. God help us.

  4. I’m from the South where Ma’am is just a fact of life. The ones that bother me is the use of “Sweetie” or “Sugar” by either men or women–I find it the most insulting and derogatory generic reference and tend to respond angrily or abruptly to those, much like someone offering “ma’am” a drink.

    And now I want stir-fried broccoli.

  5. Oh I cringe at ma’am. I want to say, LOOK I’M NOT THAT OLD! but I refrain. I’m 31 and don’t feel it. I don’t think I’ll ever feel my age. I don’t think 31 is old or anything, but we surely aren’t young whippersnappers anymore! 31 or 35 is better than 51 or 55 though right? I’m not sure what I’ll say once we reach that age, so I’m not even gonna think about that right now… I’ll enjoy my 30’s for now. 🙂

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