Back by popular demand!
This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy
Being fitted for a bra became a treasured ritual - a rite of passage. And, it always started with the same sincerely spoken welcome, “Hello, Honey, I’m so glad to see you.” Forget that the bra fitting women were as dedicated and precise as NASA engineers. Forget my mother’s annual lecture that we would never purchase an actual corset because, “If you wear one, you won’t hold in your stomach, and it’ll turn flabby.” The most impactful part of this ritual was being warmly called, “Honey.”
In the back of my teen-aged mind, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to call others, “Honey.” Somehow, I just knew, when I grew up, I too would call people, “Honey.”
I think I’m old enough now, or close to it, or might be getting close to it soon. So, a few months ago, I just dove in and started calling people, “Honey” or “Hon.” It never felt awkward. It felt warm, friendly, and welcoming, just like I remembered.
Last week, the sky fell … A male friend told me in no uncertain terms that when I called people “Honey,” it sounded condescending … WHAT? How could it? I remembered it so fondly as a wonderful expression of warm sincerity.
I doubted the wisdom of my friend and decided to conduct a little social research by asking others what they thought. The young teller at the bank said, “Well I wasn’t really paying attention.” The much-older-than-me gentleman in my service club thought I was just flirting with him. And on it went. Person after person was asked and not one heard my sweet matronly term as an expression of warmth and sincerity. Oh, no. Maybe my friend was right.
Finally, I got an answer that made sense. It came from a woman who was about my age, or close to it, or might be getting close to it soon. She told me that we are only allowed to call someone “Honey” if the person is family or much younger - and never a customer service employee. Otherwise, she said, “It sounds like you are talking down to the person.” She also told me I didn’t look old enough to get away with it. In the back of my mind, all I could think was, “You mean, a lifetime of exercise and organic food, plus decades of not wearing a corset so my abs would stay taut has come back to haunt me?”
But since the sky had not actually fallen, I wonder: Will I ever be “old enough” to call someone “Honey”? Perhaps not.
Maybe I’ll try, “Darlin’” next.
photo by alsjhc