A Babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love,

a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and man.

– Martin Fraquhar Tupper

Being called Honey or Babe incenses me. Unless it is my husband (although as we are not a nickname kind of family, his calling me Honey or Babe or the horrid French Cherie! would, if anything, make me laugh). Or a girlfriend. Sunshine I kind of like if it is said in a spirit of generosity. Being whistled at from a stranger comes close to falling into this same category of taking liberties, and well, if it is meant as a compliment I do believe that I would accept it gracefully. If done as one would whistle at a bad dog or monkeys at the zoo then, well, no thank you. I despise when my sons call me Dude instead of Mom, I’ve had male doctors actually pat me on the head and say “Don’t worry your little head with this, ma Kiki!” When my brother calls me Sis, I tend to shake at the knees, wondering what ultimate underlying intention is behind the outward affection. But what I love about nicknames, as normally averse as I am to them, as degrading and belittling as they can be if said by the wrong person or under the wrong circumstances, when inappropriate or said with a certain machismo, oozing insincerity, is the sense of inclusion they connote if said in just the right spirit by just the right person. I love the familiarity with which e-mails from a certain friend begin Good Morning, Hunny Bunny!; the intimacy inherent in the Bonjour, darling! from a male friend, much like an endearing bear hug; the sense of group and affection when referred to as Saucy by a special gang of gal pals. Jamela from two singular – and Jewish – girlfriends warms my heart the same way it always did whenever Dear Old Dad called me Bubbela.

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