Walking through the mall the other day, a young woman accosted me to ask if I wanted to try a sample of the cream she was selling from her kiosk. I said, no, and kept walking. She persisted, walking after me, asking: "Can I ask you a question, honey?" Honey? Me? I said "no" a little more emphatically and speeded up.
That's the second time in a couple of months someone has called me an endearment I didn't appreciate. The other time was at an urgi-care facility. The nurse or aide who escorted me to a room called me hon. I ain't nobody's honey, thank you very much, and like most people my age or older, resent that remark.
It's a pandemic of honeys. (Now, if I lived in the South, I would realize that being called honey is a totally positive thing. But I don't, unfortunately.)
I think the honey thing (or sweetie) is much more prevalent in the health care industry than anywhere else, except that women selling hand cream are now using it, too. For some reason, humans have a tendency to start reverting to child-speak when they address older adults. If you have gray hair or move a little slowly, they are certain that there absolutely must be something wrong with your mind, too.
I know when I was younger that I was guilty of doing the same thing. I remember when my Mom was so sick fighting cancer and she said to me: "I know I must be really sick because you are talking to me like you talk to Nonna," my grandmother. Ouch. I didn't even realize it.
And it's true that I haven't always hated the word. My father used to call me honey girl sometimes and that I liked, a lot, and still miss. He also would wait a little bit too long when our telephone answering machine switched on after he called, and then abruptly say, "Honey, give me a call, would you?" Very nice.
In its correct usage, I guess, honey isn't such a bad word at all, but has no standing when being used by strangers using it with a direct correlation to our age. So part of me wanted to back track to the young clerk at the mall to tell her that she would need a better sales technique than calling people pet names as they strode past. But instead, I avoided her on my return trip to the car. It's not that I was afraid to confront her. I just didn't think it would have made much difference and I might have ended up buying hand cream I didn't need.
Sweetheart makes "Do Not Call" List
No sooner had I sounded off about sales clerks and medical personnel calling me honey, I was called sweetheart at the drive through window at a local fast food chain.
So I am starting to think that I might be fighting a losing battle trying to stop all this unwanted familiarity. Maybe when you reach a certain age, it's just inevitable that you will be called honey or sweetie or sweetheart and so on by younger folk. I sure hope not.
One of my friends says she doesn't mind being called honey one bit, while others have told me they concur with my thoughts on the subject. So I put it to a Boom Tthis! test and asked readers for their opinions.
Here are some of their comments:
Anyway the way I look at it about the terms of endearment: I actually do not mind them at all. Most people today seem so detached or rude at times, I find that when I am called "Honey" "Hon" "Sweetie" "Dear" or "Love" etc. it is nice. We also have a lot of British people living in my community (Gloria lives in Canada) where it is a cultural thing. It sure beats "Mam" which started the day I turned 50.
At the age of 72, I get a kick out of being called "Honey".
As a mature male, I find being called "Honey" endearing.
When my wife calls me honey, it usually is followed by a task. So when she calls me honey, I tell her that honey is bee poo, although not quite so eloquently. I am finding it more difficult not to use the same response whenever a stranger addresses me as honey.
I too find it annoying when I am called "Honey," Sweetheart," or whatever. I was never sure why it bothered me until I watched GOOD MORNING AMERICA this morning. There was a 74-year old lady on who decided it was not to late to exercise. She did and got in fantastic shape, but they showed her teaching other "SENIORS" how to start and she was talking to them as though they were all three- years-old -- very condescendingly. WHY? First of all, she is 74 so she, more than anyone, should not be talking down to old people and it made me realize that being called "Honey," "Sweetheart"or whatever is patronizing and condescending. Because we are late 50s or 60s, we must be perceived as a little SLOWER?? and it is equivalent to a PAT ON THE HEAD!! That being said, I know this sounds like I am a cranky OLD lady, but actually I am not. JUST DON'T CALL ME SWEETIE, HONEY......OR WHATEVER.! Thanks for letting me unload my frustration of this on you, Honey!
One "Honey" story: when I started with the District Attorneys Office there were very few women attorneys. One of the crustier old judges was presiding over one of my first jury trials. After the jury was seated, he gave his usual opening comments about how the case would proceed, then he turned to me and said: "Honey, call your first witness." I figured I had two choices: I could get indignant about him saying that in front of the jury and maybe make things even worse. Or I could curse him silently as an old dinosaur and hope that the jury would take it as a compliment. I called my first witness.
By Teresa K. Flatley