Friday, August 7, 2009

You Can Call Me Anything

But don't call me Young Lady.

I was shopping at our local big box discount store yesterday, when I stepped on a sheet of wax paper. It was slippery so I picked it up to keep someone from actually slipping and falling on it. I looked for a waste basket or an employee and saw an employee first. I explained that I had just slipped on the piece of paper and asked if there was a place to dispose of it. She took it from me and went behind the counter of the bakery to throw it away. As she came out, one of the bakers must have asked why she was back there and she replied that she had thrown away a piece of paper that this young lady had slipped on and she gestured toward me.

At that time I would have loved to gesture back but I'm too polite for that kind of nonsense.

So what's my beef? I've tried to explain it again and again to my husband and my kids but I have a hard time justifying how riled it gets me when someone calls me "young lady".

Why do they do it? The closest I can come to a comparison is calling a very obese woman skinny. "Yeah, I just went back there to throw away a piece of paper that Skinny over there said she slipped on".

Is it sarcasm. Or is it meant to be kind or give me a lift when someone calls me young lady? Because the message I get is, that old lady over there must be so miserable to be that old that I should try to cheer her up by calling her young lady. That'll make her feel better. Well it doesn't. All it does is say, the one single important thing that I notice about you, lady, is that you're really really old.

And I probably am. I'm 63 as it says in my header, but I'm okay with that. I like my age. I garden, maintain a koi pond and a goldfish pond, I usually try to walk about six miles a day, I mow the lawn and I don't use a cane. I'm not bragging about those things, I'm just pleading that there's more to me than my age. I don't think about it constantly and I don't want to be identified solely by that. It's just not fair.

To be honest when I was in my fifties or so, I think I would take it as a compliment. I think I tried to persuade myself that someone did see me as a young lady (actually the fifties are young and I know that now).

But I've spent the last 14 years working outside in the sun and believe me, nobody is going to mistake me for a young lady.


  1. I'm 54 and I understand completely. Young lady is right up there with miss. The only people who can call me something like that better be well into there 70's and beyond.

  2. I have never really thought about this but I totally get what you're saying.

    I promise i will never leave wax paper on my floors...JUST KIDDING.

    her comment was flat rude.

  3. Okay, I'm only 27, but I so HATE the term young lady. Our next door neighbor (who is a jerk of epic proportions) used to always call me young lady, and it pissed me off so much. It just seems like a way of talking down to some one, and I think your post sums up that it IS a way of talking down. How rude of her.

  4. I can see where that would get annoying. I have never had the experience myself yet BUT I can totally understand where you are coming from with your point of view.


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