I’ll admit it here and now: I never liked the word “Madam” and yes, that’s how I think of it – with a capital M which is what makes it sound all the more stern and authoritarian. It never fails to remind me of that school marm in Oliver Twist. Quite often, I do get people calling me “Madam”. If it’s a restaurant staff, I’ll grit my teeth and let it slide. But if it’s someone trying to sell me something (well, tough luck!), I’ll just grimace and walk away.
I know they’re just trying to be polite and they’ve probably learned in school or from days of old that this is the way to address a lady. Yes, maybe back then but not now! In my view, the word itself is archaic, to say the least, and the idea of calling someone ‘madam’ is just so old and outdated… and somewhat insulting because it conjures up an image of a mean heavy-set older woman who is about to give you a good whacking on your head with her wooden spoon for something you didn’t do ala a school marm. To me, that’s not a flattering picture of the modern woman at all, age notwithstanding.
So how do you address a flower that has blossomed beyond full bloom to attain the refined qualities and perfection of vintage wine so smooth and beautiful in her own right with none of those prickly school marmish idiosyncrasies? (I’m laughing and rolling on the floor and absolutely in love with this brilliant description of mine).
I hear you protesting in horror: surely you’re not suggesting we address her as “Miss”?!?! Well, no but you could certainly address her as “Ms” which, in case you’re not aware, is an accepted title for women of all ages. In fact, this is the safest title to use if you’re not sure of a woman’s age or marital status (because sometimes a chick as young as 18 could be married with one kid and another on the way, you just never know!). Oh, and “Ms” is pronounced with a ‘z’ sound to distinguish it from “Miss”. Savvy?
And if you insist on sticking more closely to what you learned in school, you could address her as “Ma’am”. I’m not quite sure why removing that ‘d’ from the dreaded “Madam” perks it up instantly and makes it sound so much more modern and so much less offensive but it works. “Ma’am” is commonly used in the US and I’m fine with that. Sometimes they even use it on young women, no problem at all.
And that is the end of my English lesson for today 😀 . Now that you have a couple of options, if I hear you calling me “Madam” one more time, there’s no telling what I might do to your head with my wooden spoon LOL!