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  1. 01. Joy

    Hm. The author seems to read too much into being called “ma’am.” I’m in my twenties and have often been called that by both people older and younger. I don’t think it’s an epithet that suggests age as much as neutral formality and the fact that someone doesn’t know your name.

  2. 02. colette

    Quite true. Even so, there’s often a disconnect between how something was meant and how it was heard. I’m sure in my twenties I was called “Ma’am” and found myself amused. And I’m sure, also in my twenties, that I called people “Ma’am” and meant nothing more than politeness.

    Now that I’m older, I hear “Ma’am” with different ears, and I say it not at all. 🙂

  3. 03. Sue Coletta

    Where do I start? First, you are NOT a “ma’am”, nor are you old. If you’re old in your thirties, then I’ve got one foot in the grave in my (very) late forties…but I know exactly what you mean. In May, when I heard about my publishing deal, I decided to treat myself to a cocktail. I don’t normally drink, but this was something I’d strived to achieve for years. Anyway, at the checkout an older gentlemen, about 70’s, behind me in line jokingly said to the cashier, “I think you should card her.” My eyes brightened–could this day get any better?–and I turned toward the cashier, eagerly waiting for her to ask for my license. Her jaw fell open and she stood and stared as if she had no idea how to respond. I mistakenly took her silence for indecisiveness, wondering if I was old enough to purchase alcohol. Ridiculous, I know. I said, “Do you want to see my license?” And she threw her head back and belted, “Ha!” in my face. Then followed up with, “Ma’am, that’s not necessary. Clearly, you’re old enough.” In that moment, I wanted to slap her twenty-year-old face.

    My point is, when you’re young and stupid you don’t realize how hurtful a comment can be; you don’t censor your words as you do when you’re older so you don’t hurt someone’s feelings; life hasn’t taught you the delicacies and intricacies of human interaction. When a youngster shows callousness there’s only one option for you, as a writer…turn them into a character and murder them in unspeakable ways. Poof…the sting dissipates into the ether.

    Colette, regardless of age, you are stunning woman with a warm heart, a full life with a sweet family, and friends who appreciate you–all of which you could not achieve in only twenty-something years on this earth. During those startling awakenings, think about that. Or, if that doesn’t work, you could always use “XXL” as inspiration for a beautiful slumber. *wink*

  4. 04. colette

    Oh, Sue, how I adore you. I am SO right with you in age–which I’m so glad to hear, since I took you for much younger than me. 🙂

    To be honest, I didn’t consider myself old–not even close–until recently, when I’ve noticed how much more wrinkled my skin has become, how much more intense my personal summers, how much harder it is to recover from a bad night’s sleep (and there are many–I’ve always been an insomniac but middle-age has made sleep even less of a haven than it used to be). Still, I wouldn’t trade this time in my life for any other. I’m happier, more grounded, more determined, and more realistic than I’ve ever been.

    And more tired too. There’s that. 🙂

    And that twentysomething checkout clerk deserves to have her ass kicked. She wishes she were as beautiful, brilliant, generous, and accomplished as you.

  5. 05. Sue Coletta

    I read your comment when I first woke up–at 3 a.m. Yup, I’m with you on the insomnia too. I just wanted to thank you for your kind words. Between the heat flashes (they started early…lucky me) and the humidity they could not have come at a better time. Mwuah!

  6. 06. colette


  7. 07. Clever Little Madam

    I LOVED reading this because it was funny and cynical but simultaneously not. I felt carried back and forth to each side of that proverbial “greener grass” that lay on each side of the fence. Regardless of the content, which I can relate to, your writing is so much fun to read. Thank you!

  8. 08. colette

    Thanks for reading, my dear. You’re a doll.

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Photos (except blog): Bob Ohanesian & Stephanie Keith.

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