Kiss & Tell: Terms Of Endearment

Only once in my life did I enjoy being called “Baby” by a man. But he had such a deep voice that resonated with desire that the endearment was my elixir. I saved his messages forever until my phone had an unfortunate pedicure water dive, and it was irretrievable. I begged a boyfriend from the South to nickname me Penguin just because the way he said it, pingween, was endlessly entertaining. My French amour called me Princess from the moment he met me, and besides the fabulous accent, the name reinforced my self-worth, expressed by my hashtag #cantyouseemytiara. That lasted until the end of the affair when he had a few other choice names that he called me when he wrote his exit note on a mirror in my best lipstick, terms which would not be found in a traditional French dictionary.

One of my favorite terms of endearment was from my husband, and yet Lady H was not his to bestow upon me; instead, it came from his friend at a bowling alley who entered nicknames for each participant. (I am an #excellentbowler, by the way.) He became a Rogue to my Lady H, and yet rather than a Lady and the Tramp spaghetti-sharing moment, our different worlds didn’t join happily with a slurp. A reminder that how we name things does define them. While I did like Lady H, I could never use it again, not even while bowling, too many memories. It is important to note that pet names should not be recycled, like when naming your second Shih-Poo Trixie II.  

I am a person who uses Dear a lot (except when dating a man named John) and not just in romantic relationships. To me, it is a sign of caring, from calling friends Dear to the harried waitress listening to the customer who wants a gourmet meal without any dairy or gluten and with fish with only one eye. I don’t mind being called Dear by strangers either; it doesn’t have the same oversweet stickiness of Honey, or backhandedness of Sweetheart, which, like bless your heart, I didn’t learn for years was actually an insult and is usually followed by something like, “How bold to bring back the tube top.”

You have to be a bit careful of a favorite pet name to see if it ages well. Muffin may be cute until you think he is passive-aggressively pointing out your muffin top. I also have to scratch my head at some pet names which are simply beyond my understanding, like Fart Blossom, Boo Boo Kitty F**k, or Booger, as he explained, because he picked her. Some things don’t translate, like the Japanese tamago gata no kao, which means Egg with Eyes. And some are just a mystery, like Lobster Butter.

The most important terms of endearment are ones that immediately bring you back to a feeling of being loved, even if that person is no longer in your life. I can clearly remember my dad calling me HeathBo, a term no one else ever used. I would give anything to hear my dad’s voice one more time as he let me step on his feet and gave me a ride to bed. Often, in dreams, when a loved one comes back to you, you can hear them whispering that endearment, and it makes them feel almost real. The voice. The intention. The secret bond. The siren call… Baby.

Heather Buchanan

Heather Buchanan is an award-winning writer with the accolades of "Best Column" and "Best Humor Column" from both the National Association of Newspaper Columnists and the Press Club of Long Island. Having first dipped her toes in the beaches of Sagaponack at three weeks old she has a long lens on Hamptons real estate both as a journalist, marketer, and buyer and seller before joining Sotheby’s International Realty. With her in-depth knowledge and personal dedication, she has been helping clients realize their dreams of a home in the Hamptons. When she is not working, she is perfecting her secret pie crust recipe, mastering the nine iron or making peace with pigeon pose.

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