Sunday, September 30, 2007

Honey Bucket and Hey You!

by Jo Robertson

I’m not particular what name people call me. As my dad was fond of saying, “You can call me anything as long as you call me for supper.”

By the time I went to college, however, I was pretty fed up with having to spell out my first name to everyone – B-E-N-I-T-A, and I immediately adopted my middle name of Jo and have used it ever since. Hey, if Roy Scherer, aka Rock Hudson, could do it, so could I!

That experience got me to thinking about the pet names we give one another, whether friends, children (think babies and the gosh-awful, cutesy names we use), or lovers.

My daughters use the strangest words for their children. Preston became “Wheezer.” I have no idea why. Annalise was first “Annalise the Beast” and later became “Lou-Lou”; where DO they get these strange appellations? Siblings Gabe and Ezra are both called “Bubba,” but so are their father and mother. Go figure.

I had a cousin named Bubba, a result of some in-breeding, I’m sure, but that name was short for brother.

The names we give our husbands and lovers have to rival everything. When I was a young woman, a man in our church referred to his wife as My Bride. Now, to some wives this might seem deferential, sweet, perhaps even respectful. To me the reference merely conjured up images of a woman on a pedestal, thrust down into a pit. Not a pretty thing. On the way home from church, with steel in my voice and fire in my eyes, I said to my husband, “If you ever call me Your Bride, I will kill you.”
As you might suspect, that name lasted about a year.

What’s acceptable?

Sweetheart (which is what I call my husband, but also how I address my daughters, shortening it to Sweetie)? Funny thing, when we were dating, my husband once wrote me a letter, calling me Sweatheart. Uh, not the same thing.

Honey? Darling? Baby? Remember Dirty Dancing and Patrick Swayze’s line, “No one backs Baby into a corner”? What kind people name their baby . . . well, Baby?

Hot Pants? Hootchie Mama? Is there a P.C. term that I’ve missed somehow?
So, gentle reader, the question today is – what terms of endearment do YOU use with your boyfriends, husbands, or lovers? What names used in novels make you cringe? Which ones do you love to hear? Oh, and don’t forget the WHY, the most interesting part.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Granddaughter Has Two Mommies

by Jo Robertson

Okay, now that I’ve gotten your attention, let me explain what I mean. My baby daughter has been tending my oldest daughter’s children for eight years while Mommy #1 works. Both mommies parent in very similar ways, and the children obey both as if that person were the “real” mommy.

But there are differences.

Mommy #1 is the woman who carried Annie for nine months, suffering a bad back, gas, heartburn, unbelievable pain as Annie squatted on the sciatica for nearly nine months, and untold other pregnancy ailments. Mommy #1 gave birth. She is the disciplinarian, the one who puts Annie to bed at night, who takes her to the doctor (sometimes) and teaches her manners (always).

Mommy #2 is the fun mommy. She romps and rolls on the floor, she plays games, and she teases. Ironically, she is a disciplinarian also, being more germaphobic than Mommy #1. Annie calls Mommy #2 May-May and Mommy #1 Maw-Maw. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference and neither, I suspect, can Annie.

Sometimes when Annie wakes up in the night, cutting teeth or experiencing a tummy ache, she’ll look around her mother’s arms and ask plaintively, “Where May-May?”

I’m sure eighteen-month old Annie knows which Mommy is her birth mommy and which her surrogate mommy, but she also knows how to play the game. When we’re all in a public place and baby is feeling particularly diva-ish, she will only go to May-May, peeking from underneath amazingly thick lashes as if to let everyone know who’s in charge.

Annie’s pretty lucky, I think, to have two mommies. We should all be so fortunate.

I think most of us women also have another person in our lives besides our mothers, another BFF to whom we tell secrets, fears, disappointments, perhaps ones we don’t even tell our significant others.

Undoubtedly, there’s something to that male bonding thing. But I don’t think I could manage without my female friends, three of whom just happen to be my daughters.

As writers, we rely on that other friend. We call her a critique partner. She’s unflinchingly honest and unfailingly kind. She’s the cheerleader, coach, and critic.

So my question to you is: Who is that BFF you couldn’t live without? An aunt, a sister, a neighbor, a friend, or maybe your critique partner if you’re a writer. Why?