By Kay Boatner
This past Sunday was a significant day for me. No, not because of the freezing temperatures or because the New York Giants joined the New England Patriots as this year’s competitors in the Super Bowl.
On Sunday, someone called me ma’am.
This may not seem like a big deal, but if you know me, you know that I felt over the hill at 17. I almost had a panic attack when I left my teenage years behind at 20. I still hesitate to tell people my age now because 21 sounds so old.
I love a cocktail as much as the next person, but showing my I.D. at bars and restaurants doesn’t give me the same thrill as it does other recently legal drinkers. It just reminds me that all of the fun age milestones have come and gone (goodbye 18 and 21) and only the scary ones remain (over the hill at 40 and senior citizen status at 55).
My friends have all assured me that 21 is not ancient, I have no wrinkles, and false teeth are nowhere in my immediate future. But what do they know? They’re all months older than me – of course I seem young to them. They’re practically elderly. They’ll be moving into their Florida retirement home any day now.
My trip to Wal-Mart this Sunday further reminded me that my youth is rapidly slipping away. I was waiting in line to buy some food at the check-out counter when the tired looking high-school kid behind the counter rang up my items. Then he told me the price.
“That’ll be $45.52. How would you like to pay for that, ma’am?”
Ma’am? Really? It’s not like I was wearing an afghan sweater or loading up on Depends. I had on a UMW sweatshirt and was buying boxes of strawberry Pop-Tarts – how much more collegiate could I get?
But I guess to the kid with braces wearing the Japanese anime shirt, I was more Golden Girl than Gilmore Girl. A college senior probably did seem old to him – I know I thought the same thing when I was taking Introduction to Algebra.
I know that one “ma’am” is not the end of the world – merely a sign that it’s crumbling. When I’m moved from the kid’s table to the parent’s table during our family holiday dinners, that’s when I’ll know it’s all over.
With only one semester left in my undergraduate education, I suppose that it’s time that I embrace the fact that I’m almost a full-fledged adult. I’m no longer going to be able to rely on my parent’s for rent or medical insurance or gas money or any of the other perks that I took for granted these past several years.
But since I do have a couple more months left until I graduate, I plan to keep eating those Pop-Tarts and enjoying my (almost) free apartment.
Until May, Wal-Mart boy can keep his “ma’am” to himself.
By Kay Boatner