I never saw the movie “Terms of Endearment,” but is widely acclaimed as a great drama with some comedy, romance, as well as great acting. It got me thinking about the endearment terms lovers and friends call each other and how relevant this might be during our “stay at home,” “shelter in place,” and “lock down” orders.
Although it may be psychologically revealing to note what spouses, lovers, or family members call each other, I am not interested in it for that reason. For example, I have a friend who calls his wife “hey.” I don’t know why, but she responds as if he had called her “sweetheart,” “honey bunch” or some other romantic label. They seem to have a great marriage and it wouldn’t matter if she replied, “What do you want ‘dude’?”
We were teaching linguistics in England one summer and would go out for an ice cream after classes in the afternoon. The proprietor of the little neighborhood store we frequented would greet me with, “And what would it be today, luv?” Her moniker for customers was “love” and she said it very sweetly and sincerely, although with an accent I hardly understood.
My wife can talk on the telephone, skype, or zoom, but right now she has only me to talk to in person, so it is important to note how she addresses me. If I hear “Karl dear,” there might be something to fix; “Karl honey,” might implore me to read something with her or watch a TV show together. “Karl darling,” causes me to look around to see what clothes I have inadvertently and without malice discarded on a chair. On the other hand, a rather loud “Karl,” will indicate that she doesn’t know which of the rooms I am in and wants attention.
Couples have their favorite terms, and, over the years, I have heard many terms of endearment that play on the theme of sweetness. Some were indeed so sweet that I felt embarrassed. I don’t mind “hubby,” but “prince charming” makes me feel insecure and “Casanova,” “handsome” or “Romeo” are out of my league.
I know that endearing terms vary from culture to culture. I read that in France a man might call his partner a “little cabbage,” but in Thailand she might be a “little elephant.” Both the vegetable and the animal must somehow remind the man of his loved one—best not to imagine how.
I had a look on the Internet and found multiple endearing terms. Does your husband call you “sugar,” “pumpkin,” “muffin,” “peach” or “sweetie pie”? If he does, he might want you to get him something to eat. But be suspicious if he calls you “angel,” “dove,” “sunshine,” or “doll,” because he has probably forgotten to get you something for your birthday and without a face mask he can’t go out and buy anything for you now.
A woman may call her husband “hubby,” but would he call her “wifey”? I don’t think so. He might call her “beautiful,” “blue eyes,” (or “brown/green,” but not “red,” unless she had pink eye or too much to drink), even “gorgeous.” She could reply with, “my stud,” “my king,” “big-guy,” “tiger,” or “man of my dreams.” Men, be honest: even in isolation, has she called you any of those?
Parents have been known to call their little children “snookums,” “wookums,” “sweetums,” or even “munchkin,” “jelly bean,” and “sweetpea.” However, those are not spouse-like names. Husbands, don’t try using them—stick to less tear-inducing ones like, “baby doll,” “my queen,” “sweet cheeks,” or even, in desperation, “hot mama.”
I read that “bae,” is a current and popular endearing term, but I have no idea what it means. The British use “poppet,” which sounds better than Americans who use “teddy bear,” “cuddle bear,” or “honey bear.” There are no bears in England so women would have to call their husbands by unique animal names like “Natterjack toad,” “St Kilda field mouse,” or a “Fiar Isle wren.” That is better than in Australia where women could call their husband a “wombat,” “joey,” “platypus,” or “echidna.” I have never heard spouses call each other those names when we lived in Australia, but I didn’t frequent the pubs.
Think about this: you are in isolation and your best other friend—a dog—is licking your hand and showing affection. What name might you use to return that fondness? Certainly not “Rover,” “Sport,” or “Prince.” Instead, the “in thing” is to call your dog “Quiche,” “Kale,” or Hummus,” and prove that you are “cool.”
Some of you have your teenage kids with you in isolation. I won’t ask what you call them, because they might reciprocate with some embarrassing parental nicknames of their own.
The wonderful thing for Christians is that we will be given a new name: “All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name” (Revelation 3:12).
“Name the family
Day 27 and counting (slowly)
Karl and Joice Franklin