I first noticed it on a trip to New Orleans. I was sitting in a saloon, chatting with a young woman I’d just met named Grace. Every once in awhile during our conversation, Grace addressed me as “Baby” and it struck me as such a sweet endearment, especially in my friend’s lilting Southern accent.
Since then I’ve been noticing more women addressing me in similar ways. “Here you go, love,” said the lady at the grocery store when she handed me my receipt. “Thanks, hon!” a client might say on the phone. And just recently in a fancy hotel, the female concierge said to my girlfriend and me, “And how are my sweethearts tonight?” Whenever I hear these endearing forms of address used, I feel a warm connection with the women who say it.
This wasn’t always the case. In the past I felt bothered when women addressed me in such a familiar way. Perhaps it was because, growing up, I became brainwashed against words like “Honey” and “Sugar”—especially when uttered by men back in the days when women were rebelling against being treated as the “fairer” sex. Women spoke out against being condescended to, and men learned that we wanted to be treated as equals. After all, they didn’t call their colleagues “Honey” and “Sweetheart,” did they?
As a result, women these days rarely hear men speak so familiarly to them. Here in the South, however, these terms are somewhat ingrained in the culture, and I stopped being offended when men spoke to me in such a way. I suppose it’s also due to the fact that I feel self-confident enough not to be bothered by a man’s lapse into a cultural habit.
What’s also changed is how I feel when women speak to me this way. I find it announces an initiation into a sisterhood of sorts. It says we are allowed to be loving and warm toward each other. Even more important, in this modern age when relationships seem to be getting harder and harder to maintain—when was the last time you sat and had a good, long visit with a girlfriend?—we need to establish some sort of bond with other women.
It’s hard to make time for friends—no question about it. With the commitments of daily life calling every time we turn around, we barely have enough energy to get through our to-do list each day. Then we’re so tired we zonk out in front of the television at night or fall asleep trying to catch up on the pile of magazines that grows taller each week.
Yet making time for old-fashioned friendships is important because women friends offer a special kind of support that w can’t get from anyone else. They listen to us vent, rant, and rage against the universe. They offer sympathy, hope, and heartfelt advice. Friends validate us and remind us how worthy we are. Without that support, we can lose sight of what’s important in life.
As cool weather comes our way and life slows down a bit here in the fall, I plan to spend some time with friends, something fun, not work-related. Pick up the newest copy of Tidewater Women and peruse the calendar for ideas for outings and events to attend. Put a gal-pal date on your calendar, and don’t event think about canceling it.
Have fun this month!