About a year ago, I decided to stop coloring my hair.
No big deal, you may be thinking, and I wish I could agree. But it was a big deal, a true Turning Point.
My hair is white-ish now and it looks good—actually, I think it looks great. I exercise, I eat super-healthy, my vital signs are where they should be, my body-mass index is good.
And yet people take one look, and they’re thinking “Little Old Lady.”
I am not imagining this. I know this with certitude, and here’s how:
People ask me if I have access to a computer
This happens when I’m opening up a new bank account or some such thing. It’s a prelude to discussions about online banking. This question is code for “Do you know how to use a computer?” And we both know it.
I know because of the questioner’s tone. There’s something solicitous going on rather than something matter-of-fact. Why does she even need to ask?
I get weird stuff in the mail
OK, this one has nothing to do with gray or white hair. As soon as a person is heading for 55 or 60, he or she starts getting mail offering ways to alleviate, avoid, or slow down the inexorable decline and decay presumed to be manifesting itself.
Like this: Hearing Loss or Just Earwax? Find out now using a tiny video camera. (This actually happened, folks. No one could make this stuff up.)
And just for the record, my hearing is fine. I’m not so fine, however, with the idea of a tiny video camera scurrying around in my head looking for earwax.
But wait. It gets worse: I got a post card which promised that if I acted quickly, I would be eligible to win a pre-paid cremation. An incredible opportunity to be sure, but I decided to take a pass.
People I’ve never met, like waitresses, call me Dear or some such affectionate term
This never happened when I was younger. Never! Now that my hair is white, apparently it’s OK to call me Dear. It’s OK with everyone but me. Hate it, hate it, hate it!
For example, at the end of a dental appointment in March, a very young woman assistant I’d never seen before was giving me directions about something or other, and she called me Hon.
I couldn’t believe it. “Just look at the chart,” I thought. I’m Madeleine or Ms. Kolb to you. Hon is not an option.
Sometimes when we complain about being subjected to such unwelcome familiarity, others react as if we are being unreasonable or too sensitive or generally irascible. They insist that the person using such endearments was “just trying to be nice.”
This is—and there’s no polite way to say this—absolute b*** sh*t. If you want to be nice, don’t single me out for condescending endearments.
It’s disrespectful, unprofessional, and just plain annoying. If you want to be nice, call me by my name, and if you don’t know what it is, try Ma’am.
People we’ve never met call my BF Sweetie
But ridiculous as that is, there’s something even worse. It’s happened twice lately. I’m out with my BF at a restaurant.
As we finish our meal, the waitress comes over and says to my BF, “Can I get you anything else, Sweetie?”
Sweetie! She calls him Sweetie. I want to scream. First of all, he’s a greybeard, meaning that he’s highly respected as an expert in his field at work. So why is she calling him Sweetie?
OK, I’m being unfair. No matter who he is, she should treat him with respect. She should address him by name, and, as above, if she doesn’t know his name, try Sir. The way she would if he were 15 years younger.
Thank you so much. I feel a lot better now, and I’d love to get comments from other little old ladies, the people who love them, and anyone else.