Cape Gazette
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Around Town

As we age, our titles change

By Nancy Katz | Nov 19, 2013

At first I was a miss, as in, “Miss, could you hold the door?” It was kind of cute and very flippant at times. It could be construed as almost flirtatious. It was just so breezy and relaxed.

Years later, I was often called a lady, which I didn’t mind too much; it was used in the context of, “Lady, could you get the door?” There was nothing detrimental in it, just a simple request. It was OK, as long as it wasn’t spoken like Jerry Lewis in one of his comedies when he screams, “Hey, lady!!!”

But now I am a ma’am, as in, “Can I get the door for you, ma’am?” or “Can I help you with that, ma’am?” It is said with respect, much like a salute to a female drill sergeant in the military. Or at the very least a warden in a women’s high-risk penal facility. Help you and get it for you are two phrases I’m not ready to hear.

I don’t know when it happened, the change from a carefree let’s-have-fun Doris Day skating on Moonlight Bay title to being firm about the respect someone with my broken-down appearance calls for. But I don’t like it.

I guess as we age, everyone’s priorities change, and that goes to how we view others. I know I used to be very focused on frequent flyer miles, and now I am obsessed with those cards that have places where you get those little round circles punched when you use them. Eventually after reaching 50 holes you get a free service or possibly a meatball sub.

I have so many of these cards from different places that I have to carry an extra wallet just to lug them around.

Sometimes I’ve tried to use them in places like ATMs by mistake and this set off all sorts of alarms. They also confiscate the punch card.

The crazy thing is I never seem to have the right punch card when I go to the store, so I have to get a new one and start all over, or else combine them together, if I can ever find the original, which I never can because it has grown so weary of waiting with the other cards, it has simply run away. A lot of them do that and end up on milk cartons. So you can see where this transition to ma’am becomes important, or not.

I guess the next step is the title “madam.” I’m not sure how I feel about that, since I assume you’d have to be British to be comfortable with this greeting, or at least have some semblance of class, and at this point, I can confidently say that ship has sailed.

There is another path to earning that title, but I don’t think I should go into the other option. I simply won’t go there. But I’m concerned that I do feel like I am a dowager on “Downton Abbey” if someone asks if they can help me and adds the title madam.

What goes with all of this is also the greeting, “You look terrific.” Somehow this keeps coming up more and more. I’m not sure what I’m being compared to, terrific compared to a Dalmatian?

I was in an antiquities museum in Chicago recently. And there was a sarcophagus on display with about a 2,000-year-old mummy in it. My friend next to me said, “Doesn’t she look terrific?” These are the same words she said upon seeing me a few moments ago. I didn’t know whether to lean over the Egyptian coffin for a better look or spit out my coffee all over the valuable papyrus scroll.

In any case, lady, madam, sir, all these titles are a good thing, and every day above ground is a good day.

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