For the past few years, service people have increasingly called me “dear,” “sweetie,” “darling,” or “honey.” Sigh….have I really come to that anonymous place in my life where I no longer am known by my real name, but will forever be called some generic (and to me, geriatric) term of endearment? Is this where people my age end up? Have we become the detritus of the population?
Now, the Crankee Yankee always calls me “love,” which I like. He does not refer to me as “the wife” (the way you’d say, ‘my arm’) nor does he ever call me “baby,” “hon,” or “wifey.” Me, I call him “love,” too, or when I refer to him I call him by his name or “the hubs.”
I realize that this country, as wonderful as it is, deifies youth to a ridiculous extent. Which is ironic if nothing else–when I was young, unlined and all body parts worked perfectly, I was merely a pretty larva. That is, I didn’t know much of anything beyond what I learned in school, or what my parents taught me. I discovered the heady but dangerous pleasure of hiding behind my looks and letting them dictate how people treated me, and got myself into situations for which I wasn’t ready. Oh, I didn’t get pregnant or join a cult or get an embarrassing tattoo, but I did skate perilously close to disaster now and then. (These are some of the memories my mom would say ‘make you go red in the night” with a bad case of ‘oh, my gravy–how stupid could I be?’)
Years ago, when I waitressed to cover my college costs (and back then you really could pay for college without going into tremendous debt), I called my patrons either “folks,” “Sir or Ma’am,” or, if I knew them (and I often did), it was Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So.
So what’s next? Will people start talking to the person I’m with, assuming I can no longer hear, either? Or will they just start patting me on the head, smiling and walking away? Will I be consigned to the “sweet old dear” category and never be taken seriously again? Will they mistake my sharp wit for oncoming dementia and start dismissing me with comments like, “oh, she’s old–she doesn’t know what she’s saying,” and so on?
I remember that when I was a child I used to think that anyone over 50 was terribly, terribly old, and that surely I would never be or look as old as that…now that that age 50 is a good way behind me, I realize that it isn’t old at all. Age truly is what you make of it. I well remember the ignorance of being young, the arrogance, the gracelessness of it–it was a necessary time of life. Like any stage of life, I loved parts of it, and hated other parts of it. But each time of life brings its own gifts if you keep your eyes open.
Someone once told me that the secret to staying young at heart was to keep looking ahead and not behind. How right they were! And isn’t it wonderful to reach a time of life when you really start seeing things for what they really are?
And as for those young and well-meaning youngsters who call me “dear” and “sweetie” and “hon,” well–bless their hearts, perhaps that’s how they think they are showing respect to my evidently great age. At least, I’m going to take it that way and not get my knickers in a twist over it.