I heard it again. Not from a handsome man on the other side of the bed, but from the young cashier as I walked out with the newspapers I buy every morning at the gas station.
"Thank you, sweetie."
It shouldn't bother me so much. I've gladly hung my hat on the moniker of "grandma." I claim each and every single senior citizen discount I can get my hands on. I could probably even find a pair of elastic waist pants in my closet if I looked hard enough. Although they might be hidden under all the comfortable shoes.
And, sure, I haven't joined AARP yet, but I carry one of the temporary cards they send just in case it might ever do me some good if I flashed it. I don't even mind being called "ma'am" by the young whippersnappers all around me.
It's probably not fair to say that I slipped through that door of "senior citizen" gracefully, but slip through I did. And once there, I accepted it. Along with every benefit I could get. "Sweetie," however, is something I refuse to accept.
I think my problem with it dates back to my younger days.
I had a friend in college who was setting me up for a blind date. When I asked him how he described me, he said he told my future date that I was the sweetest person he knew.
"What?" I yelled. "That's as bad as saying I have a nice smile. I don't want to be known as nice or sweet. I want to be edgy, or funny, or gorgeous."
"And, yeah, I know, that last doesn't exactly fit. But what about my legs? I have great legs. You couldn't mention my legs? Guys like legs, you know."
"Did you completely forget that I scored more touchdowns than you on our coed flag football team? That I can beat you at swimming? That I can hold my beer better than you? That I wrote your sociology paper?"
I would have gone on, but he stopped me.
"I guess I could have said you're kind of a bitch," he conceded.
"Much better," I said.
And still do.