I’m under thirty, but I have been a Mrs. for over a decade. When I was first married, I was this quirky little administrative assistant and no one could bear to call me Mrs. Who could blame them? I was 15 years younger than most of the people I worked with, or I was the same age and it was too weird to call me Mrs. So, to stay respectful, but not to launch me into the same category as your next-door-neighbor’s mom – I got called ‘Miss Stephanie’. It was weird. Everyone knew to call me that – even people who had never heard anyone refer to me that way would instinctively call me Miss Stephanie.
When I ditched work and started having kids, I’d get my receipt at the grocery store and the cashier would say something like, “Would you like carry out, Miss?” And I’d glow because I was far from pretty after grocery shopping with two kids who had a tendency to run away. After a trip down the canned food aisle, I looked like Rosita from Sesame Street – wild hair like feathers EVERYWHERE.
The truth is the sales’ girl isn’t even looking at me. I could be seventy with a walker and she’d still pass me my shopping bags with a smile (probably meant for the hot guy leaning against the wall behind me) and say, “Have a nice day, Miss.” They can’t help it. Random people in sales don’t have time to figure out whether I’m married, divorced, gay, or a staunch feminist who only wants to be called Ms. Saying Miss is a nice cover-all that makes the person addressed feel young.
But you know what I like better than Miss., Ms. or Mrs.? I like Ma’am. That’s right. I’ve been through enough that I’m ready to cast off Miss like a torn coat and put on something a little more commanding – like Ma’am. It has a nice ring to it. Let me show you how it makes me sound like a drill sergeant; “Yes, Ma’am. No, Ma’am. Be right with you, Ma’am. Can I take your order, Ma’am?” Doesn’t that just make you feel good?
But no one ever calls me Ma’am. I don’t know who to blame. Is it me? Is it because I don’t pluck my eyebrows to oblivion? I was told that leaving your eyebrows a little bushy makes you look younger because kids don’t pluck their eyebrows. Is it because my hair is long and moms always chop their hair off because they don’t want the baby pulling it? Is it because Ma’am isn’t as sticky suck-up sweet as Miss?
It’s probably because the cashier doesn’t know the hot guy leaning against the wall is actually my husband and he’s smiling at me and not her.