It’s my birthday this month, and i am cruising WAY too close to 70. Ye gods. On the day itself, i went up to the Crater for some hiking and thinking time. But, before i went, i was actually in a head shop in cute little Pa’ia Town. It was, surprisingly, a crowded, tiny upstairs store crammed with shoppers and glass pipes. As I left, everyone high fived my birthday and my Crater choice for such a day. One young (20ish) woman said: “Have a great time, Sweetie.”

Sweetie.

Are you kidding me, small girl — Sweetie?

Here’s a great story that explains the effect of “Sweetie” on older women. When I was a 14-year freshman, ignorant of all things, an old Jewish woman came to our Catholic girls’ school to talk of the Holocaust. She was tough, no nonsense, with a glint in her eyes that was not kind. I liked her from the get-go. She also intimidated me. She rolled up her sleeve and showed us the vertical numbers tattooed on the inside of her arm. Wow. That got our attention even if we did not understand (at age 14). Somehow we knew the pain that tattoo embodied.

She told us that a young clerk had casually called her “Sweetie” during a shopping transaction recently, and she was apparently still not over it. Demeaning, patronizing, grandmotherly — that word did not fit this warrior woman. “Don’t ever call an older woman “Sweetie,” she spit out. “You do not know the depth of her life.”

That says it all, doesn’t it?

So, me too. Do not call me Sweetie because I too am digging down into the depth of my life.