Last ma’am in America


“Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” 

— Theodore Roosevelt 

I wasn’t looking to become archaic, but it happened nonetheless. I like to think that I am young and hip, but the evidence is irrefutable that I am not. I think I was born old. I’ve always been a careful, introspective sort. Since early childhood I have preferred curling up with a good book to falling off a jungle gym — or whatever it is kids did in the 1970s. 

I also hated dodgeball, but that just seems like common sense. Why line up to get whacked in the face when Nancy Drew Mysteries await?  

As previously mentioned, we raised our children in Appalachia. I believe this may be the closest you can get to being southern without actually moving south. It’s a slower paced and old-fashioned kind of life. Like Mayberry-esque, but with newer tractors. 

Our children, accordingly, were not brought up to be “fresh” or “sassy.” They were raised on calling adults “Ma’am” and “Sir” or “Mr.” and “Miss.” To this day they call my adult friends “Miss Sandy” or “Miss Jodi.” The number of folks who get so upset at being called ‘ma’am” surprises me. It’s a sign of respect in most cases. 

I have never understood being so deeply and personally offended at being treated with respect. Respect me all you want. I’m fine with it.  I suspect, in fact, that I may be the last happy ma’am in America. I am also one of the only females I know who has always loved a good “ma’am.” I was thrilled in my twenties when we moved to this region and my first “ma’am” happened to me. I was 27. 


I suspect the females who are most upset by “ma’am” consider it a sign of aging — aging, in and of itself, being an insult. I do not see it this way at all. I do not have a problem with aging. I figure the alternative is much less desirable. The more birthdays you have, the longer you live! 

I have actually found that as I get older, I may not get wiser but I definitely do become far more relaxed. I feel like at a certain age I just got over trying to change and improve myself. Striking change at this point is probably not going to happen. 

In the immortal words of my old cartoon pal Popeye, “I am what I am!” Popeye, for the record, is somewhere between 93 and 124, and he seems really happy.  


I can recall being young and thinking I couldn’t wait to grow up. Adulthood was the goal. It sounded blissfully amazing. Although it has more bills, cleaning and responsibility for major appliances than I had previously realized, I am still a fan. Nonetheless there are also days when it felt a little bit like a trap. 

The big thing adulthood has going for it is choices. We choose what to eat, how much or how little we want to drink, how late we can stay out at night, and we can even stay up as late as we want. Ironically, for me that turned out to be about 9:30 p.m. I think I stayed up later in 8th grade.  

I have now come full circle to wanting to stay home, eat at home, be at home, have little hobbies that mostly require puttering around the house, maybe read a bit. I am what my teenage self would have termed an Old Fuddy Duddy. 


As it turns out I’m fine with that. I have lovingly surrounded myself with like minded ladies and we have a good time. We just wrap up our fun by 9 p.m. and know better than to invite each other to clubs, concerts or anything that would keep us out past 10 p.m. 

We once left a very good play at intermission when we realized it wouldn’t be over until after 11 p.m. These are my people.  According to the Old Fuddy Duddy bylaws, I like to abide by “early to bed and early to rise.” 

I also like early bird specials in restaurants. As for entertainment, I’m kind of over all the explicit scenes in movies and TV shows. Sure I’m old enough to watch things rated “For Mature Audiences Only.” The thing is, I don’t want to.  

I think I am just going to lean into my aging, God willing. I still feel young — in a sort of slow and not super active way. I like that about myself. As I continue to do more of what I want, I’m following the wisdom of Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said “Old age is always 15 years older than I am.” 


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