so we were in holly’s hometown of butler, PA, over thanksgiving and we went to the mall on black friday. which honestly? is like an average day at a mall in say, jersey, where people will literally deck you for your hot potato at the food court.
anyway, i walk into hot topic because a) i was by myself (holly’s not a fan of faux-punk, faux-goth teenage stores, go figure) and b) i still like it. i mean, where else can you find a ramones shirt at the clearview mall in butler, PA? like, nowhere. anyway.
i walk in and this guy behind the counter is like HELLO MA’AM CAN I HELP YOU FIND ANYTHING?
at first i felt like looking around, expecting to see sophia from the golden girls standing behind me with her boxy little purse, shopping for body jewelry for her great grandkids. and then i’m like: WHAT.
HE’S TALKING TO ME? HE’S CALLING ME MA’AM IN HOT TOPIC? WHAT IN THE HELL?
my first instinct is, of course, to b*tchslap and tell him to shut his mouth when he’s talking to me.
i have been going to hot topic since FOREVER, ok? i want to shout. i was BORN in hot topic, OKAY. (actually i wasn’t. but i like saying that.) i will make this the worst day of your life on planet earth if you call me ma’am one more time.
instead i blink and say hello because, while i may be b*tchslapping you or enthusiastically pulling out your weave in my mind, i am nothing if not polite and usually quite likable, especially to strangers and the elderly.
i smile and tell him no thanks, i’m fine, just looking around.
are you shopping for gifts? he asks, somewhat effervescently (most people are so friendly in western pennsylvania, it makes you wonder what the hell’s wrong with everyone else in the country), obviously unaware that he should probably stop communicating with me lest i find a boxy little purse and hit him with it.
no, just looking around for myself, i say.
he clearly does not know how to respond. i’ve obviously thrown him for a loop.
oh! for…yourself! (awkward pause.) well….let me know…if i can help you find anything!
i say thanks, i will, as i walk towards a rack of bad discount t-shirts. my need to pull out his non-existent weave subsides. i feel sad and confused. i feel like a deflated balloon.
is this it? i think, slightly panicked. oh my gosh this is it. i’m old! am i old? i don’t feel old. i don’t think i look old. i’m wearing high-tops and jeggings. OLD PEOPLE DO NOT WEAR THESE SORTS OF THINGS.
i console myself by thinking that the guy behind the counter probably just thought i was a hot older woman (older for, you know, him, because he’s probably, like, 17) and just wanted to talk to me. that must have been what it was. and he was just showing me the respect a hot older (for him) woman deserves.
like julia roberts. or, you know, karen from will & grace. (OMG LOVE HER.)
this doesn’t help. i wander around and look at the crap they’re selling (admittedly, it’s mostly crap. but it’s fun crap.) and then leave, somewhat broken-hearted. i pledge to never go back to the clearview mall hot topic, but i know i’m only fooling myself. i will go back. i always go back.
look, i’m acting like this is the first time this has happened but it’s not. when i go to the towson mall (that’s my spot yo!), it’s pretty much a bunch of really cute, sweet college kids working at the stores. and they call me ma’am but i can ignore it for some reason. (probably because i had towson university students as interns at a job years ago. or maybe it’s simply my will to, you know, actually keep going to the mall instead of curling up in a ball with my organic night cream.) but being called ma’am in hot topic was far too much for me. it was like a slap in the face.
a little piece of me broke inside and it can never be repaired.
i know i sound dramatic, but ladies, i know you feel me. it’s like: i am not ma’am! i am not a “ma’am”! while i may not be a “miss” i am most certainly not a “ma’am.” it’s kind of like: i know by definition, i’m a “a lesbian,” but HELLO! i am totally not! WHY YOU GOTTA CALL ME A LESBIAN. I KNOW SOME REAL “LESBIANS” AND I WILL TEXT THEM RIGHT NOW AND THEY WILL COME HERE AND KICK YOUR ASS.
anyway, my point is: i really am ’bout to cutta b*tch. i do not desire to be 20 (OH HELL NO) or even 25 again (LORD NO) but there’s a 15-year-old girl inside me with purple streaks in her hair that’s really and totally confused why everyone thinks i’m an adult.
so. some new rules for strangers working in stores, etc.
1. if you feel like calling me ma’am, hold your breath and count to 10. like you’re trying to stop the hiccups or however the hell that goes. just say hello. why you gotta call me anything?? say HELLO, LADY. how ’bout that? “lady” works!
2.if you accidentally call me ma’am, run towards the nearest exit because i will be chasing you.
3. if you’re a woman wearing heels (or, you know, a man, if you’re into that, which hey, go’on wit’cho bad self, boy), THROW THEM OFF and run barefoot to the nearest exit. RUN LIKE THE WIND because while i may not be a “miss” i’m surprisingly fast, especially when i’m mad.
4. if i catch you, i will pull out your weave. so if you’re wearing one, best take it off right now. however, if you’re not wearing one, i will tape one to your forehead and rip it off so you’re pretty much screwed either way.
my next post will either be about a) hairbands (where do they all go??) and how holly says i “don’t need to buy more because they’re all over the house, put those down, you don’t need them, let’s go look at towels and other boring things” blah blah blah but hello! if that were true i’d actually find them. or b) how i’ve been starving since september because holly started grad school and now doesn’t have any time to cook so i eat granny smith apples and cheesesticks for dinner every night, which sucks and makes me mad and i’m therefore more likely to act out when people call me ma’am.
(p.s. don’t tell holly but i totally just bought more hairbands yesterday. next week i will have none. i think they’re all in our vacuum. holla!)
I grew up in Hot Topic, too, and now I freak out whenever I go in there because I worry I’m too old.
I think part of the ma’am thing though is that people stereotype those funky-dressed kids all the time, and they’re just trying to show respect.