Not that I want to knock the joys of youth,but anyone who is over 50 more than likely has personal stories of disrespect they endured while young. And I can attest to that as well. I remember going to the old Giant Mart in Churchill Square when I was in my early twenties. I had to use the phone and perhaps I was on it more than two minutes. And I suppose it got on the nerves of the lady working at a nearby counter. She took it on herself to remind me that the phone was not mine. And in not too pleasant a voice either. But I listened to her and hung up as soon as I could politely finish the dialogue with my husband. I thought to myself that she should be more respectful of me since I was a married woman now and deserving of full adult status. But obviously my marital status did not have the impact that my aging appearance has given me.
I find now that I am over sixty that I can get away with a lot more. Today no one would be so rude as to hurry me up or verbally roughhouse me. Is that what makes us , older people so crotchety ; the fact that that we can get away with a lot more? It seems no matter what I do these days I am still everyone’s love. It is becoming quite noticeable. I know in Canada the endearment, “my love” is unique to Newfoundland. But it is absolutely overwhelming these days the number of times it is used as my name .
I mean, I don’t have a face that is angelic. In fact it can be quite stern. My lips naturally turn down making a frown. I have to consciously remind myself to tip up the corners just a little to appear merely placid. Otherwise people ask me what’s wrong . I think I cultivated the stern face when I was teaching junior high in my early working days. I had to use creative ways to maintain discipline. Barbara Coloroso hadn’t published her book then. One of my strategies was the hairy eyeball, which if I can reconstruct it in my mind, I will describe to you. The hairy eyeball is a total facial performance with the eyes being the leading act. It consists of pursing the lips ,taking a deep breath , flaring the nostrils and lifting the upper eyelids to make your eyes pop . All this you do while fastening a stare on the squirming miscreant in front of you. I don’t know if my students were afraid of it or got a laugh from it but they gave me my ovation by responding appropriately which is the only payment I wanted for my efforts.
Anyway it is the perfection of that type of theatrical ploy that has given my once youthful face the look of the wicked witch of the north. So I am thinking that these days it isn’t my inner cherub that is prompting the barrage of “my loves ” that accost me the moment I step into a store. I suggest it is the recognition of my advancing years .
I’m not complaining, mind you. I love it. I can take those words all day long and night-time too. Not too much love for me. I just find it strange. I reserve that endearment for little children ,close family members, and occasionally , dear friends. At one time I used it with everyone who seemed nice. Then with the impact of globalization it became insulting to some people who considered “my love” to be “talking down”. I can’t deny that it isn’t “talking up”. After all I wouldn’t call the queen my love or my ducky or sweetheart. But people very close to me use it regularly and I reciprocate. So on the premise that it is used with the best of intentions I am going to accept it as I feel it is intended. And I will bask in “my love” till I am too old to hear it any more.
The next time I go to the mall and some little snippet of a seventeen year old says ” May I help you, my love?” I will count my blessings that despite the hairy eyeball I still have a face worthy of such endearments and have lived to an age where I have earned it.