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Friday, January 07, 2011

I'M NOT YOUR DARLING, ASSHOLE

So, I have this habit.  Not sure if I picked up from my dad or if it's a Jersey thing, but I always tag a greeting or engage a conversation with a slang term of endearment.  If you're a guy, it's always, "Hey man, how are you, brother?" or "Missed you, buddy." or "That's awesome, pal!".  I do the same thing with women.  "Hey, sweetheart, how are you?" or "Love you, darling." or "All good, baby, I'll handle it."  

I used to give my father shit because he'd do it to my friends all the time.  Then, when I was in my twenties, I started doing the same thing and I realized it's because, like my dad, I'm great with faces, really bad with names.

I'm not saying it's a good thing and I understand how it could seem demeaning, but it comes from a place of candor and warmth.  I did catch shit from a cop once when I called her, "honey", and in grad school, I got lectured by a Nation of Islam member for referring to him as, "brother", but for the most part, I navigate through my day with little or no recourse to this practice. 

Then today.  I was coming from boxing and walking to my car in an underground parking garage.  As I was opening my door, someone called out, "Excuse me".  I turned and saw a forty-something, very slender woman pointing to a white towel on the ground.  "Is this yours?"  It was.  It slipped off my neck coming down the stairs.  "Yeah, it is."  I jogged over, picked it up and as she turned to head up the stairs, I expressed my appreciation, "Thanks, darling".  She stopped in her tracks and turned.  The look on her face was a mix of puzzlement and rage.  Then she elaborated, "What did you call me?"  The energy shift was so extreme I couldn't quite figure out what was going on.  I followed her query with my own, "Excuse me, I'm sorry --"  She cut me off with a blunt clarification, "I'm not your darling, asshole."  It took a moment for it to crystallize, then I realized what I said.  But she was up the stairs before I could apologize.  I called out, "Sorry... it's a bad habit..."  Somewhere from the top of the steps I heard her mumble, "Fuck you, Ronny Killer." I'm sure that's not what she said, but that's what it sounded like... 

I'm truly sorry I offended Ms. Towelfinder and I'm sure my choice of nickname affected her on a very personal level.  But quite honestly, I also know this event will have no impact on me.  I'm too old, too set in my ways to begin major upheavals in my vernacular.  So to all of you reading this: Baby, Sweetheart, Darling, Honey, Doll, Lovey, Brother, Buddy, Man, Pal, I mean no disrespect, most likely, I just don't know your name or I've forgotten it.  

And after this mea culpa and qualification, if you are still offended... Fuck you, Ronny Killer.