I have never been one who calls people by a nickname. I rarely even shorten someone’s name unless I am introduced to them using that name. If your name is Michael, I will call you Michael. I won’t call you Mike, or Mikey, or any other form used, unless you go by that name full time. For instance, my first husband is Lawrence, but he goes by Larry, and that’s how I met him and it’s the only name I ever called him. The only time I used Lawrence was when I filed my divorce papers.
But that’s not what bugs me. What bugs me are all the terms of endearment that people use for their spouses, family and friends. It’s just not sincere. It wouldn’t bother me if they only used them for that one particular person…but they don’t. They will call others they hardly know by the same nickname. So you’re going to call me ‘sweetheart’ but then call the waitress at Jerry’s Deli ‘sweetheart’, too? I don’t think so. And please don’t call me by a name you used to call your ex-wife or girlfriend. That would really make me feel so very special. Seriously?
It’s the same thing with people telling people ‘I love you’ way too easily now, to people they really don’t love. The kids say it to all their friends, and some they aren’t close to. It’s way overused and loses its meaning for the people you really do love. I remember my daughter asking me to tell one of her friends that I love her. I said, “But I don’t” and she said, “Say it anyway…everyone does.” I wouldn’t do it. Saying I love you is reserved for those who I really do love. That’s not a compromise I will ever make and I don’t understand why others do.
I remember when I met my first husband and he started calling me ‘honey’. It was so odd to me because no one in my family had ever used terms of endearment. My parents only used their respective given names when they spoke to each other and our given names when they spoke to us kids. Both my sisters’ names were one syllable, so you couldn’t even shorten theirs. Actually, in our family, syllables were added, instead of shortened. I think it was a Yiddish/Jewish thing my grandparents did. I was Jaimala, my sister Beth was Betāmela and my sister Pam was Pamela; although Pamela was actually her real name. But being young and naïve, or just plain stupid, and only knowing her as Pam, I didn’t realize her given name had an –ela at the end. She ‘changed’ it to her real full name about 15 years ago...from Pam to Pamela. I still call her Pam. After 40+ years it’s kinda hard to start calling someone by a whole new name. Well...new to me, and not gonna happen.
But back to the endearing terms…and my husband calling me ‘honey’. It took me quite a while to get used to that. And I just couldn’t find a word I wanted to call him. Well…at least not while I was in love. I would practice saying words in front of the mirror. “Hi honey.” “Hi sweetheart.” “Hi sweetie.” Nothing felt like it would just flow out of my mouth naturally. It just wasn’t for me. I felt so ridiculous saying words like that. I guess it’s all how you are raised? I’m not sure, but since I never heard it in my house growing up, it wasn’t ‘normal’ for it to pour out. I just wasn’t feeling it. I did get used to him calling me ‘honey’ and he never called anyone else ‘honey’ besides me, so it was ok. But I don’t remember ever having a nickname for him. I believe it just remained ‘Larry’. At least out loud.
My second husband had 80 gazillion names for me. And every single one of those…he used for others, too. It bugged the shit out of me. You may not call me ‘honey’ if you’re going to call Mildred, the 70 year old dry cleaner lady, ‘honey’, too. You may not call me ‘dear’. We are not in our 80’s yet. Do not call me ‘darling’. I’m not Doris Day and you’re definitely not James Garner and we are not living in 1963. And one of my most despised names of all…’Babe’. Do not ever call me ‘babe’. You’re not a construction worker whistling at me as I walk by…”Yo, Babe.” I am not a pig from a movie, nor am I some 20 something starring in a big screen feature film or a baseball player from the roaring 20's. Everyone uses ‘babe’ and it means nothing when everyone is using it. And I find it kind of demeaning for some reason. I want to feel special when someone calls me by a name other then my given name. It should mean something. I don’t want to be mixed in with everyone else you’re calling by that name. You may as well just call me Shirley. (“And don’t call me Shirley”).
I did start calling him ‘honey’ for some reason, and I kept saying it until it felt normal. Or as normal as it was going to feel for me, which still was more abnormal than normal; never natural. I do remember the term ‘shithead’ being used quite a bit. That felt natural. Would you consider that a term of endearment? Probably not, huh? Over the years there were a few other names, but nothing I would post here. But they did flow out just fine at the time.
I had a boyfriend for a while, who I called ‘Weenie’. Don’t ask me why, but that felt natural. He didn’t take to it too easily at first, but when I pointed out that it actually was MY term of endearment for him only, he grew accustomed to it. It had nothing to do with his little pecker…if that’s what you’re wondering. It had nothing to do with him being a pansy. It just felt right and it was indigenous to him only. How special would that make a person feel? Weenie...so cute.
There are only two people I have nicknames for…my daughters. And it’s the same for both and I never call anyone else by those names…’Sweetie’ or ‘Sweetie-pie’. I don’t know why those feel right but they do. Maybe because most of the time they are sweeties and my love is so deep. Although there are times I’d like to call them by other names…not so endearing…but I refrain because I’m supposed to set a good example. Aren’t I and do I have to? My girls know there are a couple of names I will not answer to. I will not answer to Mama. We are not in Little House on the Prairie nor are we in Tara. Actually, I think Mama is the only one I don’t like. I still love being called ‘Mommy’ no matter how old they get. It will always make me feel warm and fuzzy and that’s exactly what terms of endearment should do.
People have quite a few names for me that are variations of my given name. So that’s ok and kind of sweet. I will answer to Hymie (phonetically spelled for those of you who don’t speak Spanish and who obviously don’t live in L.A. then), Jai, Jaimala, Jame…and most forms thereof. I will also answer to ‘Love of my life’, ‘Woman of my dreams’, ’20 Million Dollar Winner of Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes’. Or…Jaime, Jaime bo bamey, banana fanna fo famie, fee fy mo mamie…Jaime.
And that’s the name of the game……Babe.