I'm sitting at a coffee table in a restaurant happily having breakfast while I edit a manuscript. A man, apparently younger than I thought, sits at the end of the same coffee table working on his computer. He leans over to me and says, "Ma'am, do you mind if I scoot closer so I can plug in my computer? The battery is running low."
What? Did he just say, 'ma'am'? I recover quickly and smile. "Sure," I say. Then I excuse myself and head to the restroom to see what he sees in me. I expect an old lady to stare back at me in the reflection of the mirror, but I don't see that. Yes, I am older than him, but I think I look okay. So, what makes me a "ma'am"? Is it an air of confidence? Maybe. Do I actually look older than I think I look? This is possible. Is it that I'm simply more comfortable in my skin? Possibly. I can't figure it out. Somewhere around 35 years, people started referring to me as a "ma'am" rather than a "miss". I simply wonder what happens at this magical age that causes the cross over from "miss" to "ma'am". I mean, I know there's no going back. It's just a hard word to embrace.