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Don’t call me the dreadful ‘Dear’

Dear Annie: Why do strange men call women “dear” as they get a little older?

I am in my late 60s but don’t consider myself an “old lady.” I dress reasonably — nice jeans/pants and a cute top. My hair is not gray, and I do not look sickly.

Yes, I have a few wrinkles, but I still feel proud of my appearance. I am not these guys’ mother, wife or sweetheart. I am a complete stranger.

I have been called “dear” by cashiers, EMTs, a male dentist and others. Many women do not take this as a compliment. It is a little demeaning. When I very politely mentioned this to a couple of men, I was met with silence or a look of disbelief. Hopefully, some of these guys will see your column. Thanks for letting me vent. — Don’t Call Me “Dear”

Dear Don’t Call Me “Dear”: You assume that “dear” is a term reserved for elderly women, when I always thought it was a term of endearment (pardon the pun) for all ages. I see the intention being key in these circumstances. Are these speakers being courteous or condescending? I’m curious to hear from other readers on this subject. When a stranger calls you “dear,” are you complimented or insulted?

Dear Annie: In these days of the coronavirus, I have been occupied by going through some paperwork that my mother and I have saved. We found this poem by Bruce Wilmer, which was written in 1978. I wanted to share it with your readers because it is just as appropriate now as it was 42 years ago.

“New Beginnings”

Each chapter that is ending

Leads us to a new beginning

The past that we are leaving

Means a future we are winning

Each change that fills the present

Sets the stage for our tomorrow

And how we meet each challenge

Helps determine joy or sorrow

In every new beginning

Spirit plays a vital part

We must approach tomorrow

With a strong and steady heart

So as we turn the corner

Let’s all apprehension shed

And fill our heart with confidence

As we proceed ahead

— Bruce B. Wilmer (1978)

Dear Reader: Thank you for sending this poem. It is very uplifting, and, as you say, it is still timely.

(Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. This column is syndicated by Creators Syndicate columnists. Visit the website at www.creators.com.)

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