From Miss to Ma’am

From Miss to Ma’am
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By Mary Cowser

“Uh, Ma’am, can you help me?” I heard a man saying those words from somewhere behind me one day. It was more than a few years ago when I was working as a bartender at a local club.

At the time I heard him clearly; however, I didn’t turn around because I assumed he wasn’t talking to me. After all, he was calling the person Ma’am. A few seconds later, I heard the man say the same words, only he sounded closer this time. Apparently, the person he was addressing was completely disregarding him. I turned with the intention of helping him and, to my astonishment, the person he was calling Ma’am…was me.

I will never forget that moment. I was in complete shock and literally without words. It seemed as though I stared at that poor man with my mouth agape for an eternity. He must have thought I was suddenly struck by a severe case of stupidity or insanity. With a bewildered expression on his face, he asked, “Could I please have a beer?” When I finally recovered from my stupor, I gave him a beer.

You might ask why those words were so significant. It’s because at some point in time, unbeknownst to myself, I had stopped being a Miss and had become a Ma’am.

For the remainder of that day, I could think of nothing else. When did this tragic event occur? That single word said by that poor clueless man changed my life irrevocably from that moment on.

Of course, we all become conscious that we are aging due to minor changes in our lives that add up. Here are a few:

  • Weight. The weight we managed to maintain in the past seems to have increased by 10 or 15 lbs. Now we can no longer eat food that contains the good stuff such as sugar and fat.
  • Eyesight. After an annual eye exam, the ophthalmologist proclaims that you will now need to wear bifocals. (I just thought they were making the print in magazines and newspapers smaller.)
  • Wrinkles! We look in the mirror one day and are dismayed to see small wrinkles around our eyes and more defined lines on our face.
  • Dated Points of Reference. If someone asks what our favorite song or group is, we respond with what was once a cool answer such as Stairway to Heaven or Led Zeppelin.  You then have the disconcerting realization that the person you are talking to has never heard of either one…awkward.
  • Clothes. Wardrobes change, particularly for women. We may notice the sexy high-heels, once a main staple in our wardrobes, have been replaced by conservative and comfortable flats.
  • Birthdays. Our birthday used to be the best day of the year next to Christmas. Now we dread that day and hope it slips by without anyone noticing.

All of these are subtle (and not so subtle) reminders that we are getting old. Personally, they were subtle enough that I was able to remain in denial.

However, when that man called me Ma’am, it all came together.  The fact that I was getting older came upon me with a ruthless apprehension. Before that happened, it was something that I managed to ignore. Then along came a perfect stranger to wrench me from my state of denial.

I have since learned to embrace my maturity. I see the wonderful elements of my life that go along with aging. I am older and that has made me a lot wiser.  I now realize that I had to grow older in order for my wonderful children to have my wonderful grandchildren. And now I have the time to truly enjoy my family.

I no longer have to work at a regular job so I am now free to do as I please. Isn’t that the day we all looked forward to when we were young? I am happily living a more modest life and I’m no longer concerned with the balance in my checkbook. Petty issues that stressed me in the past no longer bother me at all. I am also more tolerant of people even though they might not deserve my tolerance.

I am growing-out my grey hair and loving it. I am no longer as concerned with body image. The parts I disliked in the past, I now consider not so bad after all. Especially the parts that are still holding up (pun intended).

To sum up, I would say I have become better with age in many ways. When someone addresses me as Ma’am these days, it no longer throws me into the depths of depression. I briefly recall my reaction the first time it happened and the memory gives me a good laugh.

This phase of my life is turning out to be one of the best and, yes Ma’am, I intend to embrace it with gusto.



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