Thursday, September 9, 2010

The State of the Address

Suz, my next door neighbor is a young woman like me. About 68kg, well proportioned. Her designer outfits sit tight on her. Throw in a haughty expression and you have a gal who attracts ‘Madam’ like flies to honey. The same Security man who pays obeisance to her with a ‘Good morning Madam’ ‘Welcome Madam’ each day has the audaciousness to say ‘Baby what’s up’ to me cause I greet him with a smile and ask after his day.
I convinced myself that he was only being a tad over familiar (for lack of a better word). ‘Just overlook it. He's a neighbor after all’. But after 7 days of it I read him the riot act and he sulkingly stopped greeting or responding to mine altogether.
Can you beat that?!
Please don’t call me Baby.
Except we’ve locked lips, you’re nursing me, changing my diapers, you are performing other nurturing activities and/or Except you call me baby cause you love me (and I love you too).
In Nigeria, depending on the state of your attire, assumed income, or body size, or the absence or presence of a band on your left hand, you may be addressed by Coworkers, Clients, Strangers, Customers as:
Sister- Not necessarily blood relation but female who could be his Sis – age-wise, same hood or breathing same air.
Sisi - young chit- acceptable only if called by an older person, if younger rude. kindly bring out the glare.
Madam – Haughty demeanor, Attire, moneyed accessories, with or without a wedding band.
Baby – Young Pretty Thing, a recognition of your Baby-tude
There's also an ethnic slant to the address. A male from the North(predominantly Moslem) would rarely utter those words; unless he’s lived in Lagos for long and imbibed its rude culture. The random male from the West(Yoruba) would rarely do so too. Except he's in your social circle or he erroneously feels there are grounds due to some prior contact.
The male from the East (Ibo) fueled by testosterone, religion and centuries of male-centric tradition feels he has a God given right to ‘Baby’ any woman who doesn't have a ring on her 4th left finger.
You give him an ‘I wish you could just turn to a lump of dog poo glare or an icy ‘Excuse me’ and he loudly admonishes you. Reminding you that he has a woman like you at home (ie. Laying his bed). Translation - So long as you're unmarried don’t turn your snooty nose at me. I might just be your answer to marriage. WTH? Ha.
So when I came across this article in which the Author complained, ‘
There are other reasons to dislike the term ma’am — for its whiff of class distinctions, for being dismissive, stiff and drab. “If someone calls me ma’am, it’s superficially a sign of respect, but it’s also creating distance,” Dr. Kroll said. “It’s saying, I’m not going to have a serious conversation with you; I’m not going to engage with you.”
 ….I thought if only she knew what side her bread was buttered. I want that distance so very much!

What’s your favourite or un-favourite form of Address?


  1. Okay, Baby, I am listening. Since I love you, it's okay to call you that!

  2. lol. How did you know that clause was written for you especially?

  3. I got over "ma'am" a long time ago. Because I choose not to take offense. People don't use ma'am to offend. Why not be compassionate and take "ma'am" as the sign of respect it's intended to be and get over yourself already. (not YOU, Ginger, the people who choose to be offended by a sign of respect). And I'd sure as hell rather be called Ma'am than Baby by a complete stranger I can tell you THAT.

    And besides, I don't get my sense of self-worth based on what random strange men call me in the street anyway.

  4. I hate when anyone over 17 says, "yes ma'am" to me... makes me so old!!!

  5. I cringe when I get called "ma'am" it just does not sit well with me.

    I also do not like being hollered at...I prefer a simple, "excuse me miss."

  6. LucidL, 'Miss' isnt bad either. But I'm with NGIP on this, I'd prefer 'Madam' anyday to being called 'Baby' by a stranger.

  7. Unfortunately, not many person realise that being addressed "ma'am" or "Mr." when tis not necessarily called for, is to create 'distance' and emphasise a desire not to be too familiar.

    Okay 'babe'......



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