Don’t Call Me Darlin’


By Alexa Day

Darlin’.

It’s a popular term of endearment in Romancelandia.

I hate it.

The word darlin’ inspires in me the same disgust many people experience upon hearing the word moist. If I had to choose between the two of them (and please don’t make me do that), I might actually choose moist. I hate darlin’ just that much.

I’m not totally against pet names and such. Honey and sweetheart always sound condescending to me; perhaps this new Age of Sarcasm has sucked the sugar out of them. Speaking of which, I could be sold on Sugar, under the right conditions. I’d pick babe instead of baby. I like the idea of the secret nicknames that my special friend(s) and I might choose for each other. Hell, I wrote a short story in which the cowboy hero called the birthday girl Sugar Tits. Perhaps a bit coarse for some people’s tastes, but the heroine didn’t mind it one little bit.

Sugar Tits, coming from the right mouth with the right intent, would sound like music. Hot, sexy music. The kind a woman tells stories about later. Darlin’ lacks that potential.

But why?

Maybe it’s the newish trend of assigning cutesy-boo nicknames to things that once bore more straightforward nomenclature. Ghosting and submarining, for example, refer to specific classes of behavior that we used to call fuckwittage, or simply being an ass, back in my day. (For those unfamiliar, ghosting is when someone disappears in the middle of an established pattern of communication, forming in the early stages of courtship. Submarining is when the ghost suddenly reappears as if he had not been an ass in the first place.) I guess a single girl is more likely to read advice about how to handle submarining than she is to seek insight about what to do when a man is being an ass. No one wants to feel responsible for communicating with an ass. Still, calling it submarining or ghosting or whatever makes this fuckwittage sound like normal, acceptable behavior.

Darlin’ strikes a nearby nerve. It sounds like baby talk to me. Something women think men say. Something a little phony. The kind of thing a man calls a woman when he doesn’t remember her name. My knee-jerk reaction upon reading it is to wonder what led this man to call this woman darlin’. Where did he hear it? Isn’t it straight out of country songs and black-and-white movies?

As I was taking my notes for this part of the post, I thought of my esteemed colleague, award-winning author Kiersten Hallie Krum. In my mind’s eye, I could see her smiling and shaking her head. In my mind’s eye, Kiersten called bullshit.

If Jason Isaacs called you darlin’ just one time, Kiersten said, I bet you would abandon this line of complaints forever.

She’s not wrong. Two weeks ago, I did a giddy little dance while throwing six dollars plus a generous tip at my television. (That’ll make more sense if you click here.)

There’s also a rumor that looking directly into Jason’s eyes renders one susceptible to suggestion. So I suppose that if we were looking right at each other, I would not be inclined to make much fuss over darlin’. I’d prefer Sugar Tits, but it should be noted that no one has asked about my preferences in that regard, least of all Jason himself.

This is an exceptional case, though. It matters, but it doesn’t alter the general rule.

Don’t call me darlin’. Or Sugar Tits, just to be safe. Maybe avoid honey and sweetheart. The sound of my own name, on a familiar tongue, is endearing enough.

For now.

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