Sunday, January 29, 2006


Maybe it's my Midwestern linguistic heritage. Maybe I'm a sexist bastard. But I use little terms of endearment with women of whom I'm fond. Words like "sweetie", "honey", "sweetheart", "hun" and "babe".

Now I know that some men in the past have used these terms in ways that weren't too endearing. They use them in sentences like "Fetch me a coffee, would ya, hun?", in which case "hun" means "woman, who should do menial brainless tasks for me because you are a woman and I am a man".

But I use them in sentences like "You got it, babe" or "Whatever you want, sweetie" or "Aw, honey, I'm so sorry to hear that". In all cases, the term means "woman for whom I care with fiercely protective lion love".

And this was the problem of the weekend. I spent a lot of time with M. Seems she's willing to just go with the feelings and see what happens between us. I had been counseled by a friend to expect this, since according to her, all women think they're the one who will win out. I need to inform them all, I suppose, that they make the flawed assumption that the natural end state is for there to be just one winner.

Among our many conversations, M informed me that she has a pet peeve. She hates to be called sweetie, honey, baby, and any derivation thereof. Part of her hatred is that these words aren't just used for her, but for others, and she thinks sometimes they are used to be sure not to say the wrong name at the wrong time.

Right. Point taken. Don't call her sweetie because she thinks it's a sign I'm a player.

So I spent a lot of time trying not to say those things.

Problem: It's just deep in how I talk.

Bigger problem: I tend to use those words most during tender moments when I seek to re-assure someone that I care for them.

So we have a scenario in which, at the moment she least wants to hear it, I'm most likely to say it. What's worse is, at the moment I'm reaching out, I'm likely to get negative reinforcement.

At first it was a joke. But then I got pretty frustrated, getting a slap on the wrist when I was showing some care.

Saying good bye this afternoon, I let another "sweetie" slip. And in a moment of frustration, I said without thinking "Ya know, I know you don't like it, but I think you're just going to have to learn to deal with it, because that's the way I talk".

Her response? A big smile. Seems I got points for standing up to her and telling her to like it or leave it.

I think, in some ways, this is a good thing. Good for me for not contorting myself to make someone else happy. Bad for me for having spent 36 hours trying.