Sunday, May 9, 2010

In Which I Officially Am OLD

Yesterday, a little girl called me "Ma'am". Now, we live in the South, where it's acceptable to do that to anyone over the age of fourteen, but for me, it was weird. She passed me on the roller rink and blithely yelled, "Excuse me, ma'am!" or it might have been, "Coming through, ma'am!" but either way the message was clear--youth and vitality passing age and exhaustion on the left.

So I sped up (I am quite amazing on a pair of quads, you know) and passed her, just to show her that I still "had it". I am sure she had been wondering. And I said, "Excuse me, sweetie!" as I passed so that she would feel the same level of acceptable Southern condescension that I had been subjected to. Because I'm like that.

I've been called worse, so I'm not sure why I was so annoyed by being called Ma'am. One time one of my students said something to me like, "I'm not sitting down, you bitch." (I'm not adding the italics for fun, here. I can't convey the way this student said it without italics. Or maybe all-caps. Yes, he said, "I'm not sitting down, you BITCH.") He was in a fit of pique and as someone who often suffered from fits of pique during my high school years, I knew just how to handle it. I think I said (in the sweetest, most well-modulated tone I could manage) "Yes, I am a BITCH (or bitch if you prefer). How sweet of you to finally notice. Now sit down before I really get bitchy." He sat. We moved on.

He wasn't one of my honors students, by the way, and this is how you can tell: Honors students are always like, "Oh, Mrs. Hadley, you're so funny." "You're so cute, Mrs. Hadley." "Can we please read another poem by Robert Browning, Mrs. Hadley?" and "Why, yes, Mrs. Hadley, you do look better when you gain sixty pounds during pregnancy!" Because honors students? Three-quarters of their smarts can be attributed to the fact that they have figured out that teachers love to reward sweetheart students with good grades (By the way, I loved teaching Honors classes. It was like being served up a side of self-esteem every morning.).

So, anyway. The point of that post must be recapped, since it was so convoluted:

1) I do not like being called "Ma'am"
2) I will retaliate with "Sweetheart"
3) I don't mind being called "Bitch" but you have to really mean it.
4) I love Honors students (and all other students who loved me first).
5) I am really a great roller-skater.


Claire said...

See, I would have chased after the kid, pushed her over and said "that's what you get, bitch, for calling me ma'am."

Too much?

The Rookie said...

Honors students really are fabulous for the ego. Frankly, there's something endearing about the ones who call you a bitch to your face (gotta love honesty). AP students, on the other hand, are a buncha wussies who can't handle the heat...or annotating.

And I hate when I am called ma'am. It feels humiliating on every level, as though I didn't realize I'd dressed in a muu-muu and slouching brown knee highs until that exact moment I hear the ma'am applied to me.

Jen said...

Rookies comment embarrasses me because I am in fact wearing a muumuu at this very moment. Maybe that's why ma'am doesn't bother me. This is very disconcerting. I need to read trashier romance novels or something. Maybe some lipstick on weekdays?

Adrienne said...

I am impressed you are only just being called "ma'am." The Jiffy Lube guy called me "ma'am" in high school. I'm just mature for my age I guess :)

Sara said...

and now i would like to come out of blog stalkerness because i was one of your honors students and i really do love you!

Josh said...

"youth and vitality passing age and exhaustion on the left."