Southern Way

Southern Way

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Am Not A Miss

Down here a young person always politely addresses older women they know (other than a Mother, Grandmother, or Aunt) as "Miss" as in "Miss Virginia". The term "Miss" has nothing to do with a lady's marital status. It is simply a term of endearment, a term of affection, more than that - a term of respect for their elders. A little girl may be called "Miss" as in "Miss Martha Sue" as a child, usually when an older family member is commenting about her. As in, "Miss Martha Sue, you sure do look real grown up now in that pretty dress." Or, "And, little Miss Mary, just where do you think you are going this time of night?"

We brought our children up to respect their elders. There are many "Misses" in their lives. The use of this term confounds many northerners, but whatever. If it isn't that it would be how we get 2 cups of sugar to dissolve in a gallon of iced tea and how we manage to keep our skin so smooth as we age. (A dish pan of warm water and Ponds cold cream, but I digress.)

All this was well and good until I was discussing a matter with my stockbroker this morning. Now he is a fine gentleman, about my age - maybe a bit younger. When he said, "Now Miss Ann, don't you worry we will take care of this for you," there was little doubt the financial issue I had requested would be handled. However, I was shocked at the idea that I was being addressed that way.

The idea that I would be considered someone's elder. Why, yes, it is a term of respect but we only use it for those older than us. Usually I think of those ladies in my mother's generation being referred to as "Miss". I certainly have not reached that stage in life. After all I'm not THAT old.

The title of "Miss" is reserved for mothers of one's adult friends, ladies with married  children, grandmothers, widows . . . OK, I guess three out of four qualify me. But I am not taking this very well. 

Perhaps I should remember one of the last times I was referred to in this manner. Well, it was not pretty. Let's just say I was six years old and it involved a missing slice of my Mama's prized pound cake just before she was going to present it as dessert to our guests at Sunday lunch. I think her comment was, "Miss Ann Currie you wait until I get a hold to you." The guests giggled thinking the missing slice was amusing at best. But I knew the term "Miss" in front of my name then was the kiss of death. As my Daddy used to tell me when I was in heap big trouble, "Young lady, you better give your heart to Jesus, because your tail belongs to me."

Given that thought I shall take this now as a term of endearment and just assume he would never be referring to my age. After all I should hope that Ponds cold cream has been good for something. 


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