If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

23 October 2006

A study in contrasts

This is an unscientific estimate, but I am at least 20 years older in America than I am in Italy. Must be some crazy aging process that occurs on the transatlantic flight from Rome to the US. As if flying didn't suck enough already?

This, I mused, as I was recently standing in a bit of a daze in front of a gangly, acne-plagued teenage boy at the aptly-named Chicken Shack, a good-yet-fast food joint in the quintessentially American suburban midwest.

"Excuse me, Ma'am? Do you want roasted potatoes or french fries with that?"

Snap. Out of my reverie.


Okay, TECHNICALLY, I suppose I am of an age where I could have given birth to the young man standing in front of me. But... but ... but... (stammering)

Ma'am?!?! (in the South, I would have written it off; you're Ma'am at about 18 there. But ... the Midwest? There it's reserved for OLD PEOPLE. Like when boyscouts offer you their arm to cross the street, "ma'am? may I assist you? I'm getting my Eagle Scout designation ... ") Aaaack!

I mean, I had purposely not worn the floral muu-muu... and I'm still not sure what it is about the knee-high black CFM boots, fishnet stockings, a flippy skirt, sassy sunglasses and a denim jacket that says "ma'am"?

In Italy, I am one of the youngest people in our small hilltop town in that peculiar middle-age. Our town is strangely lacking in people in my category: young-ish adult, the strange single thirtysomethings: neither child nor breeder. And combining the locals with those who have chosen to retire in the area, we have more than our fair share of older and elderly folk: In a perfect caricature, the leathered, weathered and wizened town elders are all well upwards of 70, and all still tooling around regularly in the piazza, the oldest being somewhere close to 100, I'd guess.

In Italy, I'm widely regarded as a (somewhat sweet if slightly crazy) young thing. The locals at my favorite restaurant play games with me, deciding which among the 'eligible young men in town' ("young", meaning those under 70) would be suitable to set me up with. In Italy, I'm a "ragazza" -- meaning, girl. Better yet, I'm often "bella" ... as in, "Ciao, bella." Hello, beautiful.

And in America, I'm "ma'am".

Oh, geez. I'm the first to admit that life in America has its' advantages, but if I have to be "ma'am" to get them, is it worth it?

Let me think about that while I browse online for a walker from Amazon.com. I mean, it is obviously only a matter of time.



Blogger tallulah said...

Run. Don't walk to the next flight back to Italy!

5:57 PM  
Blogger I'm Just a Girl said...

I got called Ma'am the other day too...at least you can escape it. I began to realize that despite my occasional bout of acne I can still pass for a Ma'am. What does that mean????

By the way I'm nursing my bruised feelings that you were in the Midwest and didn't call...if you were not in the Chicago area please call my ego and calm her down.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe all those training videos at Chicken Shack require them to say Maam?

Look at the bright side...at least you are not 36 weeks pregnant!!! Talk about being put in the WRONG age bracket. I feel like I was thrust face first into Mommyville. Doesn't anyone realize I am a young babe who could just as easily be headed out to the clubs tonight?!?!?

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be thankful you are pregnant! The clubs aren't all they are cracked up to be.

8:44 PM  

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