Thoughts on Being Called “Ma’am”

I hate getting older. I usually avoid stereotypical middle aged behaviors like complaining about laugh lines and Keto fails, but after hearing the third Dunkin’ Donuts boy call me ma’am this month I’ve come undone.

I realize very few of us enjoy getting older in a youth-obsessed culture where Botox injections are the new manicure.  But I’ve always had an extra special problem with the concept, even before crossing over to 40. Ewe. Just saying it.

From my earliest memories all I’ve wanted to do is grow up, buy heels, move out, and wear kick butt Heather Locklear business suits (raised on a unhealthy diet of Melrose Place and Glamour Shots) and be an adult. Then in my mid-twenties, it all came to a grinding halt.  And every birthday since has been a downward spiral of dread, neurotic Googling of Asian skin secrets and increased prayer against the spirit of crow’s feet.

When I hit 30, I cried. When I found my first gray hair at 35, I entered full denial, blaming stress from a millennial assistant who wore jammies to work. Or maybe those new supplements. Dang herbs! When 50-year-old men began messaging me on my dating app, I instantly cancelled.  Surely, if Match can’t filter seniors insane enough to attempt dating a spring chick, this site cannot be trusted.

And the inner turmoil has only worsened since crossing into my fourth decade.

Maybe we all feel this way. Maybe everyone’s just better at sucking it up, happily trading skin elasticity for finally driving reliable cars. Maybe sitting at the top of the food chain at work is worth being targeted for osteoporosis cures on Facebook.

However, I do feel my age-dread is comparably more drastic than other women my age, because, deep down I still feel 25…and still kinda act like it. For example…

I still shop at Forever 21. Yes, the quality is like wearing third world shoestring, but I somehow feel as long as I can saunter in and rock stonewashed denim and chunky knits, I’m still closer to birth than death. I realize I should take my rightful place within Nordstrom wracks, but I simply can’t give it up. With the exception of reverting to crop tops, of course. I’m not a sociopath.

I still say “dude.” It’s like my favorite word. I thought eventually I’d drop it, but I’m getting increasingly nervous I’ll be that 60 year-old saying, “are you kidding me, dude?” to her husband in public. I dunno.

I have a consistent tendency to blare late 90’s R & B whenever I’m really happy, or really sad. It’s really not until your teenage pounds on the wall begging you to turn down your House of Pain that you realize the depth of this abnormality. But for some reason, “Jump Around” has been my anthem for victory and my antidote for bad days since teenagehood. At this point I feel even Jesus understands. “Ah, look at her go. Could be worse, right?” 

I’m still scared of the cops. I just think there’s a point most people grow up and realize the police are our friends. They aren’t breaking up our keg parties and pulling you over in your mom’s station wagon anymore, they’re keeping the neighborhood safe. But alas. When the Po Po pulls behind me I most always break into a sweat. “Kids are you buckled?!” Which is hilarious because the worst they’d find if pulled over would be an egregious amount of Home Goods receipts and maybe a mother driving barefoot.


I still want to go dancing. I honestly thought after I gave my life to Christ, birthed three children, and acquired a management title that this desire would quell. But no, I can honestly say, at any moment at any time, if I were asked to drop everything for a night out dancing with the hubs, I would sprint to the car dressed in age-inappropriate garb. I know I’m too old. I know it’s worldly. But there better be clubs in heaven. Just sayin.’

I still do irresponsible things characterized by wayward youth. I eat while driving (talkin’ full bowls of cereal ), dodge responsible activities like school fundraising and have always filed taxes late. Thank God for my Boy Scout of a husband whom holds it all together, but still.  It’s shameful.

My dissolution is so strong that at times I can almost truly believe I’m still  28.

Except. Coupla things.

I have trouble standing. By some unforgiveable work of Satan, I’ve lost the ability to sit for prolonged amounts of time, or sit Indian style without having to do a ‘leg test’ before rising. I’ve literally fallen straight to the ground in public after standing up too quickly in heels. I’m not an 88-year old Vietnam vet, wake UP knees! It’s just plain demoralizing, and I still refuse to believe it’s anything but a phase. 

I’ve become more crotchety. I’ve always had a tad of a temper. But with Jesus’ help I’d like to believe I’ve morphed into loving, laid back gal even under rough circumstances. However I feel I’m losing my patience, as of late. When finding myself next to a punk wearing a “F*ck y’all” shirt (asterisk omitted) at my gym, I complained to the staff immediately. Just the other day I voluntarily placed myself on hold for 30 minutes to complain about my Go Daddy customer service experience. This is a scary phenomena. I feel I’m one gray hair away from becoming that old woman who “shushes” people in the movies.

While drafting this written pity party I have been pleasantly surprised, however, by thoughts of how many things have improved through ‘maturity.” I do SO many less stupid things, to begin. When I think of all the naïve, immature ways I’ve handled situations in my twenties and even thirties, it’s almost unbearable. I never thought I’d reach the level of emotional maturity to be able to socialize with the ex, or manage to keep my mouth shut talking politics with liberal friends after two glasses of pinot.

And, so all of my fellow age-resisters, let us continue to pray for acceptance and graceful aging in our high wasted denim, embracing the positives that really re found in every season. Even when the next employed toddler calls us Ma’am.

Dude.

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JESSICA KASTNER

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