Maybe it’s me. In fact, I know it’s me. I am sensitive to things that come out of people’s mouths. I am actually less sensitive to the things that people I know intimately and forever and to whom I am close, when they say something that makes my eye twitch (barely noticeable except to me, of course). I probably roll my eyes but not sure others notice. Back to the strangers who think they are part of my social circle (albeit small but good). These are the folks who asked me things like “Do we know what we’re having?” and other gems such as “How are we doing today?” They call me “sweetie” as they are handing me my coffee. I don’t know them and even my FHB, does not call me “sweetie” and frankly, I am just fine with that. I’ve never been a fan of being addressed as Ma’am, as I think that is somewhat respectful but relegated to people who are in their 100s. I would rather not be addressed if I think we are probably not going to see one another again and we are not going to be in a relationship, business or otherwise.
I was raised with what might be called Extreme Manners. My sister and I did not call anyone who was a contemporary of our parents, unless granted permission, by executive order of the RULES, by their first name. It was always Mrs. or Mr. or some form of formal designation such as “Tante” (aunt in German), followed by their first name. These were in addition to our actual blood or by marriage relatives. We also were taught to use the designation, “Cousin” to identify various members of the extended family . For a while, I didn’t know why so many people had the same first name. In fact, my sister and I only have one actual first cousin, as my father was an only child and my mother’s sister (my cousin’s mother) was her only sibling to have a child. That being said, she was referred to as “Cousin” long into our adulthood and never by her first name, which I still never use and often forget that she has an actual real name. My childhood friends’ parents, with whom I would play, when I was in elementary school,were also called by Mr. and Mrs. I mistakenly called one parent by her first name and my mother received a phone call from this woman and I was given a very clear mandate that I was never to do that again. Apparently this was a serious transgression on my part, never to be repeated. These were formal times, with lots of rules. I was never sure if other people had similar rules when it came to household etiquette. We greeted our parents with “Good Morning” as we sat down to breakfast. We asked to be excused when meals were over. I often wondered if someday, if I met someone who was connected to royalty, I would be complimented on my good breeding and manners. To date, for the record, I have yet to meet anyone who wears a crown, except for the occasional birthday parties I was invited to, when I was six.
So, what do I think about the familiarity with which people communicate with me, nowadays, when I am out and about? Do I chastise them in anyway, beyond the eye roll which, as I said before, no one notices. I grouse, inside, and perhaps say something snide to my FHB about this. However, I put it all in the bag I call “Context”. I see an attempt to connect, to have a moment, to be friendly and to engage. A stranger who is working to make an impression and who, despite my curmugeon-like tendencies, probably means well and never means any harm. My upbringing is often my undoing, as I have this standard in my head on how we are to speak and be spoken to. I know, as time goes on, I may get used to be called “dear” and “miss” by strangers. In the meantime, you can address me as “Your Royal Highness” and I will call you “Cousin”.