Monday, June 18, 2007

Terms of Endearment

I've never dated anyone long enough to get to the phase where we start whispering sweet nothings to each other and all that gushy stuff. Even though I have this idea that such things might be kind of nice, I have another idea that it might take me a long time (in the event of going beyond, say, a second date) to be able to dish out or receive such comments with a straight face. This is probably because my personal experience of such terms and phrases has always come in the context of trading commodities.

When I lived in England, the shopkeepers in the off-licenses where I bought my Underground daypasses would call me "love," or sometimes "duck." Which was okay if it was a maternal-looking older woman, but not so okay if it was a rather dodgy-looking older man. Or a dodgy-looking younger man, either.

Nowadays, it's usually "hon," and I'm usually called that by females younger than I am, who are buying frappuccinos from me. I really hate the term "hon." I don't care who says it--how old they are, what gender they are, whether or not I know them--to me it always sounds condescending. And I really can't stand condescension. (I'm also unsure whether or not I can spell it. Can I?) But it's worst when the females-younger-than-I-am call me it.

The newest development in this area, though, is that these variously-aged male customers who have been coming to our store for a while are apparently suddenly feeling at ease, and have been adopting pet names for me (and probably everyone else). These are not the old guys who throw the word "sweetheart" around gratuitously. Nor are they guys whose names I actually know, with whom I have some camaraderie. They're just random familiar faces.

I had scarcely been back from Chicagoland a day when the guy who gets an iced venti hazelnut coffee called me "honey." Not "hon." Honey. Huh? Then today, two different men called me "dear." I think you'll agree that "dear" has different connotations than the much more casual and oft-used "darling." I'm feeling really confused. And a little bit, I might say, "sketched out."

6 comments:

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Guilty, I have pet names for just about everyone and when I go into a store where there is a female working behind the counter, especially when they are younger than I am, of calling them kiddo or sweety.

Cupppajojo said...

Yes!!!! I so cannot handle it when people call me this. Anytime that anyone other than that certain special someone calls me anything other than a term/name stamped "socially acceptable and polite," I want to put on this face of utter disgust. Why do people think that this is ok? The only time that I can handle it--sort of--is when the person is a particularly friendly-looking grandpa type with absolutely no ulterior motives or perhaps if the person is clearly the mother of small children and has lost all ability to speak with adults.

Craver Vii said...

I am so opposite on this. Well, not totally, because I don't USE terms of endearment, but it's just wonderful (oops--I meant heart-warming) to be on the receiving end. There was a restaurant in Chicago I used to love to go to just because one of the waitresses was an older gal who talked that way. There was no sense of impropriety; it just made the ambiance familial, and I felt welcome.

Jenn said...

Cube-Rev--Initial response: ACK! You DO?! Response upon some further reflection: some people probably like this. Also, it might make a difference whether they knew you or not.

Cupppajojo--thanks for commenting. I'm not surprised you know what I'm talking about . . .

Craver--Probably context makes a difference. Also, for some reason, I think this kind of thing is often creepier coming from men. Although it might also depend on the men in question. Furthermore, it's not that I'm opposed to all familiarity, per se. I like knowing my customers names and engaging in banter with them, and I enjoy compliments. It's just something about those TERMS. I dont' know.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

well, I call guys bud, dude, brother, etc. Having done the customer service thing for a long time I liked it when guys called me bud or when women call me sweety. heck, to this day I still like it.

Jenn said...

Cube Rev--it's cool, dude. Oh wait. Are women not supposed to say "dude"?

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