What you talking 'bout Willis?
Let me 'splain.
There seems to be some confusion up here about the word "Ma'am". People seem to think its an insult, being the opposite of "Miss". I overheard a co-worker say she feels old when someone calls her "Ma'am". I can see where they might be confused. But it ain't so.
"Ma'am" is a designation of respect, and when used in a certain tone of voice, among friends, it is a term of endearment.
Now, if I were to get short and snippy, and THEN refer to you as "Ma'am", thats an insult but not the kind you think it is. I'm trying to insult you while still remaining within the limits of polite society. I'm not calling you old, but a witch.
Even though you might be.
But thats not the everyday usage.
In the everyday sense, the word "Ma'am" does not convey age, but authority, position, rank or simply respect.
It's not a four letter word. Except technically.
It's not "Yes Miss", until you reach a certain age or can no longer deny your "wrinkleyness". Its "Ma'am", as soon as someone feels the urge to show you respect, whether it be a child or a customer-service oriented cashier.
I've been called "yes ma'am", since I was around eleven or twelve.
AND I LIKE IT!
And if you don't, well, maybe you should spend some time down in God's Country....
You know, down below the Mason-Dixon line :)
(I see I'm not alone. Check out this cute t-shirt.)