If not now, when?

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

08 November 2006

From a darling young Southern gentleman

Many of you don't "comment" ... you just email me. Here's a recent example...

"Dear Ma'am,

I am writing to let you know that here in the South we use ma'am in multiple applications. It is not only a term of respect (be it one that was beaten into us from the ripe age of 2), but also a term that we use in reference to those that we feel are more intelligent, better qualified or someone that has earned our respect for reasons other than simply their age.

However the transverse (we are Southern; nothing is straight forward) is a term that is not one of endearment, respect or the sudden grasp of one's qualifications; it is a very eloquent and refined means of slandering some bitch that you would like to choke but legally are unable to escape persecution for. Here is a simple example of a use in the vernacular:

An old lady has just pulled out in front of me in traffic. She has not paid attention to the fact that there are other people on the road at all, much less directly in front of her. I slam on my brakes and avoid a collision with this genteel 70plus year old who is old enough to have given birth to not me but my father. She notices what she has caused and politely waves from the wrist up as she continues to be oblivious to what she has done. I politely wave back and say "Ma'am don't worry about it, I was going too fast and should have paid more attention to the boat pull out into traffic" The translation is a little different than what was said. What I actually said was..... " you fucking bitch I don't care how old you are; look where you are going."

But ma'am sounds so much better.

I just wanted to let you know that the southern vocabulary and understanding of respect is spreading throughout the US. So don't take offense to the little boy at the chicken shack. He simply thought you deserved respect, or thought you were a fucking bitch. Neither of which is a reference to your youth: Fear not my friend."

Bless your heart,

The Dreamer


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