Why Ma’am is OK With Me and Men Should Still Read This

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Scared of the Dark

Scared of the Dark (Photo credit: jbelluch)

There we were, two friends, standing in line to get popcorn for a long ago forgotten movie. As we stepped up to get our chemically enhanced butter flavored popcorn, the punk behind the counter looked at us and used the word that The Huffington Post declared as the ultimate no-no for (a-hem) mature women.

According to The Post, which is always right about everything, women hate the word Ma’am.

Ma’am, according to those polled, (and who allows that to happen in public, let alone admit to it just so that generalizations can be formed?) is reserved for women not only past their prime, but so far beyond it that they would require a GPS device to return to the half way point.

In keeping with every poll ever taken, no one has asked my opinion, probably because I don’t answer phone calls unless I recognize the name on the caller id and try to look busy when people try to catch up with me at the mall; this strategy consists of walking as if I have a purpose and frowning lightly.

This works apparently, as once, as I walked through a hotel lobby, a man stopped me to ask about the establishment. When I asked what made him think I would know, he told me that I walked with a purpose and that was true, as the hotel gave out warm cookies and I wanted to get to my room so that we could have some alone time before it cooled off, which is generally the purpose of hotels if you exclude sleeping.

Anyway, my point, and I did have one, is that I no longer consider myself a miss. The last time I thought of myself as a miss was a long off yesteryear when I was still dewy with youth (which is a good name for a band,) and, since that time I have found the cure for the dewiness and it isn’t matte makeup (well, it can be, but for my purposes, just go along with me.) The cure, unfortunately, is a few decades of living, especially if you engage in shenanigans and less then stellar behavior.

So, back to the counter and the kid whose world was about to be rocked and not in a good way. This excuse for a nearly completely formed human being, who was mostly made up of acne and brace and who is probably a bank president by now, had the outright gall to call one of us, ma’am. (I’m pretty sure , it was my friend.)

Okay, breathe, majority of people who answered the Huff Post poll. Breathe! You’re going to hyperventilate.

In response, my friend leaned over and took this puzzled piece of nonsense by his crooked clip-on bow tie and…

Actually she leaned over and said, “Just a tip. Women don’t like being called Ma’am.”

Now, this is where this story goes right off the rails, so, as Dave Letterman says, hold on to your wigs and keys. I elbowed my friend aside and said, “Here’s another tip. Some women don’t care.”

I know. This is the equivalent of a man telling a young girl that men can be less than sincere when it comes to, you know what. And then another telling her nothing of the sort is true.

Actually this is nothing like that at all. This is the equivalent of women having different opinions on things, which many men seem to interpret as pure lunacy designed to confuse them.

It might be easier for the opposite sex, ie: dudes, if we all thought the same on every subject, but in all honesty, I don’t have the wherewithal to take a world-wide opinion poll and then point out the error of everyone’s ways. The grading process itself would be a real time suck, so you’re just going to have to live with the idea of a vastly divergent female gender, unless you’re gay, in which case you’re just going to have to live with that because women still exist outside of a man’s sexual interest.

And, here’s the thing. This preponderance of diverse opinion is not specifically gauged to confuse our male counterparts. If I were really trying to confuse the male gender I would teach all women to ask this question: Are you worried that I’m getting fat?

Any male readers who have not yet wandered off to find the TV remote are now beginning to sweat profusely, because, although they don’t know the correct answer, they sense danger, kind of like a gazelle wandering into a lioness bar.

(Those of you which are still reading, stop sweating on your laptop, it’ll kill it and it won’t be my fault.)

Back to the secret answer; as every woman has probably guessed, there are two answers far as men are (wrongly) concerned; no or yes. And here’s the scenarios as these two answers are played out.

Gal: Are you worried that I’m getting fat?

Trembling guy: N-no?

Gal: “So, you’re not worried about how fat I’m getting?”

(At this point the man in question will burrow around his brain through the sports and ways to burp the national anthem and, without thinking it through, will make the following fatal mistake.)

Quivering wreck of male gender: Yes!

At this point, the woman can make several choices. She can hold back tears before clapping her hand over her mouth and bolting from the room or she can try the classic,“Are you saying I’m fat?” It is entirely up to her. Have fun with it.

The answer of course is “You are simply perfect, my little dove, in every way. Do you want chocolate?”

Now, there are some women who are angry at me for disclosing this, as angry as they would be if they’d been called Ma’am at the popcorn counter and I may be vilified for it, but I have a very good reason for parting with this knowledge; I’m the mother of a boy and I like it when he’s not having nervous break downs, so I actually drew up this lesson in order to give him a leg up on other guys.

(Turns out , according to a recent poll, most guys hate when other guys put their legs up on other guys, so this may be a bad idea all around.)

In full disclosure, I also told some of my son’s friends about this, but, in my defense, guys don’t talk to each other about relationships and they forget everything women tell them, almost immediately. So, I’m not really giving away the store.

Finally, back to the whole ma’am thing. There are two choices when youngsters are trying to be polite to women; one is to say Miss and the other is to say Ma’am. To me, calling me Miss is like a handsome young man telling me I’m spry for my age. We both know that I’ve long ago past the finish line on the Miss thing and my feeling is, if a young man wants to compliment rather than patronize me, he has to acknowledge that I’m a fully formed female human being who has lived too long to be to let foolish flattery turn my head and not long enough to think those days are completely behind me.

So, young men, here’s what you say: Yes, Ma’am. Whatever you say, Ma’am. Here’s some chocolate, Ma’am and, want a massage Ma’am? And we’ll get along just fine.

Anyway, since my son has shown no signs of returning to the days when mommy was the sun and the earth revolved around me, (and wouldn’t that be creepy if he did?) I’ve decided to throw my energy toward preparing him for life with a woman.

I don’t want to overstate this, but I believe I have come up with a single question which encapsulates the land mine that exists in the heart of many women and have offered it to my son as practice if the future mother of my grandchildren tricks him in to marriage.

Are you worried about how fat I’m getting?” Can you taste the genius? I’ll wait while you ask your male significant other, (it may work for gay couples, someone will need to research this and get back to me) the question that will cut all mystery away from the husband/wife dynamic. Go on. Print it out if you need to. I’ll wait.

So, you asked? And he presumable replied yes or no. (Gazing at you in abject terror doesn’t count. He has to answer.) The treasure is not in the asking of the question, or even the answering of such. The gold comes in your reply.

Most will say, something along the lines of, “No?” in a small but mandatoryily terrified voice. Here’s what you will reply: “So, you’re not worried about how fat I’m getting?” He will most likely try to rectify this answer with the opposite answer having forgotten what the original question was. His face will light up and he will proclaim the word he hopes will save his life, “Yes!”

At this point, you’re on your own. You can either hold back tears before nodding, clapping your hand over your mouth and bolting from the room or you can reply, “Are you saying I’m fat?” Either way. You can even improvise from this point on. It’s all for the sake of education, after all.

You may wonder, not that it matters, if there is a reasonably safe answer to this question. Of course. That answer must be, without deviation: “You are simply perfect, my little dove, in every way. Do you want chocolate?”

2 responses »

  1. You are simply perfect, my little dove, in every way. Do you want chocolate?

    (This line is so good, I thought I should not have to wait for the trick question; I thought it might be helpful to curry favor and facilitate a “yes” answer to the decidedly NOT trick question that husband’s often asked their wives when, you know, they want to only hear a yes answer …)

  2. Jamie and John, in some parts of the country (California is still the US, correct?) M’am and Sir are never used. In other parts (the South) young men would not dare address a female over 30 with anything other than Yes or No M’am; they are haunted by the memory of tasting soap as kids or at least the threat of it.
    We had a guess conductor at All State (from west coast) declare that the students he worked with were the most polite young people he ever encountered. He thought he was royalty by Sunday with all of the ‘Yes Sirs’. Admittedly it stings a bit when the young person of 35 or so give one the M’am , however, in the case of the massage offer….

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