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Valentine dilemma: “Baby,” you’re not the greatest!
Danny  Tyree

Although the bar has been set remarkably low during some epochs (“Dearest, you’ve survived to produce seven more viable male heirs than my second wife”), society has always expected couples to use terms of endearment to grease the wheels of their relationships.

I have it on good authority that the custom goes all the way back to Adam and Eve (or as he affectionately referred to her, “McRib”). Of course, the sweet nothings were probably muttered through gritted teeth when Adam asked questions such as “So, McRib, got any more reptile fruit peddlers you’d like to introduce me to?” or “McRib, are you sure you want to know if those fig leaves make you look fat?”

Yes, healthy couples are hardcoded to employ pet names; but the names we have depended on for countless decades are problematic on so many levels.

“Baby,” for instance. Or truncated versions such as “babe” or “bay.” Those “Reader’s Digest” variations really give you something to aspire to, don’t they? (“Let’s make it to our 50th anniversary, and I’ll see if I think you’re worth the extra syllable.”)

I guess infant-oriented terminology is supposed to conjure up images of your partner being cute and cuddly and innocent. (Innocent as in, “Baby, you did tape up the lenses on the surveillance cameras in the casino bathroom, didn’t you? Oh, man. What happens in Vegas winds up in Singapore.”)

Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong, but “baby” makes me think of spit-up, colic and unpredictable tantrums. More importantly, “baby” carries the inescapable connotation of something that needs to be changed. (“Fate brought us together, baby. We’re soulmates. I wouldn’t change a thing about you except...wait, this is page 3. Where did I put...?”)

“Surely there’s nothing wrong with ‘honey’?” you may interject. Um, honey is something you rob from a hive and then it becomes your property. Why not just greet your Better Half with “Honey, I brought you flowers, jewelry and a chastity belt”?

At least “honey” has a better reputation than some of the other taste-bud terms, such as “sugar,” “sweetheart” and “sweetie.”  (“I could kick myself for not having noticed you sooner, my little high fructose delight. But I may need some toes amputated first.”)

“Darling” (and “dah-ling”) sound too much like a hoity toity society matron. (“I would ring for the maid to draw your bath, darling, but I’m waiting for the Marx Brothers to involve me in their antics.”)

Let’s at least put our top scientists to work engineering terms of endearment that haven’t been worked to death by truck stop waitresses. Then when your Significant Other takes care of all the Christmas cards or repairs some loose boards, you won’t feel so obligated to tip.

Maybe we can even wrangle an executive order that terms of endearment must be sincere, with no ulterior motive. No more “Honey, I love you, but...” or “Baby, if it’s not too much trouble...” or “Love of my life, you know that industrial strength shop vac you warned me not to buy and that precariously perched urn containing your grandmother’s ashes...?”

*Sigh* I’ve got to distance myself from this vexing subject. Time to relax with my favorite animated short, “One Froggy Evening.”

“Hello, my baby. Hello, my honey. Hello, my ragtime gal...”

Aaaggghhh! Pet names have found a forever home in my brain!

Danny welcomes email responses at and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”