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Terms of Endearment

Millie Jefferson

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Daddy's Girl
(Debbie Brock)
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We say "I love you" in so many ways. Sometimes it's the phrase. Sometimes it's some other totally unrelated phrase. Sometimes it's just a funny face. We asked you what you call your sweetie and how you tell them, "I love you."

Terms of Endearment from our Listeners

When I was four or five years old, I had a daily ritual that I would perform with my dad. Mom was staying at home and taking care of me, and he was at work, and every day around 3 p.m. he would give her a call at home. Mom would say to Dad, "Mary wants to talk to you." And he would sigh and say, "OK, put her on." And then I would take the phone, and in my really excited little kid voice, I would exclaim, "You you you...you you you...you YUCKY MUDSOUP YOU!" I remember doing this ritual, and I remember being really excited about it. I thought it was fun to call my Dad a "yucky mudsoup," like he was in on this joke with me. I think in some way that this was my twisted little kid way of saying "I love you."

Mary Brock
Exeter, N.H.

When I remarried eight years ago, my teenage daughter had a hard time calling my new husband by his name, Richard. It was just too formal and staid for her...so she called him "Buddy"...never to his face, but it was the name she used to refer to him whenever he wasn't around. Pretty soon, my other married daughter and her husband were doing the same thing. Eventually, he discovered his nickname and to say that he didn't appreciate our little term of affection would be a real understatement. But in 2005 we were blessed with two grandchildren. Both of my daughters had children--one a girl and the other a boy, and since we are among a myriad of various remarried grandparents, I decided to christen myself and my husband "Nonnie and Buddy" as our official grandparent names. It took a little while, but now needless to say, whenever my husband hears "Buddy" from any of our children, but most especially from his two grandchildren, his reaction to the name he once abhorred is completely different. He knows now that it comes from our hearts and that it means he's a special member of a family that cherishes him as a husband, father and grandfather.

Carolyn Hahn
Youngstown, Ohio

These don't perhaps exactly qualify as terms of endearment, but when I was married my wife and I had a tradition come tax time. In the occupation blanks on the forms next to the signatures, my wife would write "Intellectual," and I wrote "Wage Slave." (Terms which were roughly accurate based on our vocational accomplishments, actually.)

Josh McIntyre
Raleigh, N.C.

I call her bee-barf, which is a nauseatingly silly way to call her my honey.

Greg Gibbs
Sparks, Nev.

My wife, Trish, knows that I'm overflowing with love, when I'm calling her 'Honeybunnikins'. She has always been, and always will be my Honeybunnikins.

John Shepley
Glen Arm, Md.

My wife and I, throughout our 13 years of marriage, have come up with different off-beat pet names for each other. Probably some of my oddest ones for her are "Shoemaker" "Muffin Maker" "Boom Boom Shaker" and "Long Mumu." "Mumu" is a name that we made up to describe the space between the nose and mouth. I don't know why I started calling her "Shoemaker"; it just hit me one day and it stuck. She calls me "Short Mumu" (see definition above), Ponchan ("pon" is short for Ponpoko, which means both racoon and big stomach in Japanese, which is her native tongue).

A final note: I can't stand it when she calls me by my name "Russell." I guess I just feel that we're much too close for this level of formality with each other. She teases me sometimes by calling me "Russell" and I cringe.

Russell Johnson
Seattle, Wash.

"Shut it Shitball!!" is our favorite because we laugh so hard we cry. Other favorites include: Lil Baby Boyfriend, Lil Baby Girlfriend, Tender Nugget, Puffy Nugget, Little Woodland Creature, Lil Baby Cow Parts. I know.....we're weird. Just wait until we release our children's book/CD project "One Whale, One Owl, and a Bumble Bee."

Kate Endle
Seattle, Wash.

My husband and I call each other mean names in a loving tone. We have discovered that taking the charge out of words such as "stupid," or "ugly" makes them unavailable when we are angry. We hardly every fight!

Laura Barcelo
Indianapolis, Ind.

My sweetheart calls me clownface with great affection, or CF for short. This came about during the first six months of our relationship. It was early winter and I was relaying to him a funny family anecdote about our term for the affliction known as "Clown Mouth." This is when your lips get so chapped that your entire mouth becomes inflamed and your mouth takes on the appearance of a clown.

My sweetheart, wanting to show that he was paying attention to my story and wanting to adopt this "insider" phrase so he could be seen as part of the family, later asked if my "clownface" was any better? "Clown face?" I asked quizzically. "You know, when your lips get all chapped," he replied. "Oh!" I said laughing, "You mean clown mouth. But, clownface can work too." So, from there on out, I was known as clownface.

Gretchen Kinder
Somerville, Mass.

The first year we were officially dating (after being friends for over four years), we spent almost entirely at a distance. Eric was in Iceland (yes, Iceland, Reykjavik to be exact) with a Fulbright fellowship to work on his dissertation on Norse folklore, and I spent the first semester studying abroad in Europe and the second back at school in Memphis. We wrote lots of letters and emails -- at one point, when I was in Switzerland, I received a letter from Reykjavik almost daily. Early on, Eric started addressing me as Elska, or Elska min, the Icelandic term for Love or my love. I then started signing my letters the same way. We still do so, now that we live together, married, and email back and forth during work. But I think he's only ever said the word out loud two or three times.

Emily Bryan
Saint Louis, Mo.

My husband, Hank, and I call each other "loved one." We like the old-fashion sound of it, but it's also a tribute to a man who was an influential person for Hank when he was a teenager. Hank worked for a florist and John was a crusty, ex-Marine in charge of the delivery vans and all of the teenagers who worked as part-time driver/delivery men. John had a indiosyncratic view of life, including the florist's clientele, but a very soft spot for his wife, his "loved one." We still keep in touch with John, who's now retired and living on Cape Cod. His wife died just before he retired, and he knows we've adopted his term of endearment for her. It means a lot to all of us.

Tony Delisi
Brookline, Mass.

Please note: while there may be a Paris in the Yukon, I'm in the one in France. Anyhow... the French word for soft, smooth, sweet is "doux." A child's comforter or security object is called a "doudou." My boyfriend is my "doudouboy" and I'm his "doudounours" (from "nounours" or teddy bear). Thanks to caller ID, we are able to have (short) conversations entirely in "doudou" talk...

Marc Naimark
Paris, France

My fiance always got annoyed when I called her "dear." She said it made her feel like an old woman. So one day I said "Prancing Princess of the Forest" instead. Soon she was signing "Prancing Princess of the Forest" on cards and e-mails she sent me. That eventually got shortened to the acronym "PPOTF."

When we got married two and half years ago, she had "Love always, your PPOTF" inscribed on the inside of my wedding ring.
We got new cell phones a few months ago. I was going to put her in as "Wife." "Wife?" she said almost offended. "Here, I'll put my name in your phone for you."

Now I have the challening task of trying to get my bluetooth headset to recognize the voice-command "call PPOTF." She has it easy. I'm Markypoo.

Mark Boehme
St Louis Park, Minn.

My wife and I often call each other "wife" and "husband." We work in theatre, and occasionally, we get the chance to work together. A year and a half ago, we were working on a play together, and the cast thought that it was very cute that we called each other "wife" and "husband." So cute, in fact, that some of them began calling us by those nicknames themselves!

Vincent Olivieri
Long Beach, Calif.

Have you ever seen the old Star Trek episode "The trouble With Tribbles"? These furry, squirrel- sized beings made little chirruping sounds that endeared them to whoever listened. So, my husband and I, (both big Sci Fi fans), have devolved into making similar melodic booping sounds whenever words escape us, and sometimes we launch into computer noises.

Jan Napack
Corvallis, Ore.

I call my boyfriend "beancake," or "beany" for short, but I have no idea why. He calls me "peaches" or "dumps" depending on what mood I'm in. Instead of saying "I love you," we just say "so much" because after the first time we broke down the barrier and admitted to each other that we loved each other seriously, we went out to dinner with some friends, and sitting there across from each other at the table with all there other people around, I looked at him and felt filled with so much love. I held his hand and said "so much," which he just knew was an extension of the "I love you" we had exchanged earlier.

Ashley Beecher
Miami, Fla.

I call my brother, David Underwear Smiley. David is 46 years and we met eight years ago. He was adopted by a wonderful family at birth and we met in July of 2000. I call him David Underwear because his license plate was DUS 483 and my sisters and I had this stupid game we play with license plates. His real middle name is Scott but we have taken his new middle name, Underwear, and ran with it.

My dad didn't think it was dignified enough for him. So my little eight-year-old brother thought of calling him David Uranus Smiley. For obvious reasons we called him Underwear instead. When he first visited our family home in Alaska we greeted him at the airport with a big sign that had a very realistic drawing of a pair of whitey tighties. He didn't know how to take it at first but now he loves it. Somehow this little nickname helped smooth his transition into our loud, crazy family. We adore our big brother and our thankful that he puts up with our antics.

Colleen Echohawk
Seattle, Wash.

I use the most ridiculous terms of endearment I can think of to make my overly-serious fiance laugh. It used to be "Snookums-Pie," but that has morphed into the even more silly "Boo Boo Snookums," which is almost always said in a sing-song voice (slow-slow fast-fast). Although it embarrasses him, it does make him laugh. The pet names (pardon the pun) I have for the dogs and cats are almost as bad. There's "Little Sweetness," "Punkin' Pie," "Precious Pie," "Sugar Boy,""Missy-Poo" and the ever-popular "Darlin'." Happy Valentine's Day!

Kristi Short
Greensboro, N.C.

Ok, this will definitely sound silly, but my husband and I call each other "fish." It all started in a coffee shop, when we overheard two girls talking to each other, one was talking about her boyfriend. She said, "He's such a cuddle-fish (cuttlefish)" We thought it was hilarious, and soon started calling each other cuttlefish just to be funny. Well, it stuck, and eventually got shortened just to "fish." I even bought a bunch of fish ornaments and hid them in our Christmas tree this year for him to find. When we're especially silly moods, we call our house our fishbowl, and instead of saying we're "driving home" from work, we say "swimming home." We have a lot of fun together.

Ann Arbor, Mich.

My husband is not very sentimental, but he does have a term of endearment for me: Honey-Bunny. It was a few years before I realized where it came from: Pulp Fiction. Actually kind of appropriate given his personality.... When I say "I love you" to him, he responds with "Meow."

Marie Coppola
Chicago, Ill.

My long-term boyfriend and I used to just say, "I love you." We got married a few weeks ago (January 5th), and now the phrase pales in comparison to the thrill of me calling him my husband or him calling me his wife. We really enjoy dropping it casually among strangers. The waitress or new acquaintance thinks nothing of the words, "My wife and I would like to share the french fries," or "My husband visited Munich recently." We steal a quick glance, but I don't think anyone can tell that we are beaming inside.

Lori Veilleux
Atlanta, Ga.

This is really about how my girlfriend, Solvig, addresses me in love notes and cards: SPSIII. It stands for Sir Puddle Snort III. This happened about two years ago following a laugh with a snort. I couldn't help it, sometimes I just snort when I laugh, hence she called me "Snort." A few months later my eye started watering uncontrollably -- maybe it was allergies. Anyhow, "Puddle Snort" came into the equation.

Finally, she thought I should aspired to be knighted -- I should earn "her favor" by completing three tasks of heroism. Though I don't recall the tasks -- they were indeed minor -- I finally earned the right to be called Sir Puddle Snort III. I don't know why 'III' was added. I guess Solvig figured there was probably an SPSI and SPSII out there somewhere. (I shudder to think that her previous significant others had similar nicknames.) Anyway, it showed me her creative zeal and I love her for it.

Steven Gentile
Davidson, N.C.

By staying married to you, you jerk! Twenty years and four kids later, I'm not going anywhere -- whether you like it or not. It isn't easy, which is why no one does it anymore, however,nothing defines "love" or "devotion" like sticking it out; "for richer or poorer and in sickness and in health." It's called "commitment" and it is, God forbid, quite "uncomfortable" at times...

Rosalind Bertone
Huntersville, N.C.

I call my 22 year old daughter "Wheatie." When she was a toddler, her dad asked her: "Whose little girl are you." And she answered: "I'm Mama's Wheatie."

Jeanne Wood
Moscow, Idaho

After 21 years of marriage, our lovespeak has evolved until our two most common pet names are "b'lone" and "

" It started simply as honey, then honey bunny and then honey baloney and so on. It is a fairly well developed langauge, generally spoken in a particular voice. We call it "baloney speak." We even have language for time, money and anything else that can be broken into measurable bits. ("Picks" and "parts"). Even in the car there are words for indicating that it is safe to proceed at an intersection. ("Duh" and "Nodd").

We also speak of "being a baloney," as a descriptor of having the right spirit toward one another. When our first daughter was born, we wondered if she would be a "baloney." She is, as are our other two children. However, "baloney speak" is still primarily our love language for each other. We still use "unny bunny" and other variations on the theme. Essentially, regular words evolve into special words in the "baloney lexicon" over time. We are both well educated professionals and often wonder what others might think if they heard us speak this way to each other!! Even reading back over this submission makes it clear that the words lack a good deal of their richness when used out of context!

Chris B.
Plymouth, Minn.


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Michael Feaster

    From North Providence, RI, 07/26/2011

    I used to call my wife Kiwi the happy squirril. Her nickname used to be Kiwi, because her younger sister said Kelly and it came out Kiwi. (And she was kind of Kiwi shaped.) I added the happy squirril part, because she was excitable. And I made up a song that went along with it: "Kiwi the happy squirril, the happiest squirril I know," was the chorus, and the rest of the words changed depending on the cicumstances. Ex. "Kiwi the happy squirril, the happiest squirril I know. She asks if her butt is big and though, it is but I better not tell her soooo." Or "CHORUS - She drives in the left lane this I know, because all the cars behind us horns do bloooow."
    We aren't married anymore...

    By Rachel England

    From Pocatello, ID, 05/31/2010

    My boyfriend got a bear tattooed on his shin about 8 months back. I didn't like it at all, even though it was a pretty good tatto. (I just don't like him to get them at all) Upon close inspection of the silly thing I realized that a tuft of hair directly between the bear's legs looked a whole lot like female genitalia, so to bug him I started greeting him every morning with "Good morning sunshine vagina bear" and I still do it from time to time just to piss him off ;)

    By Acasia Tucker

    From Los Alamos, NM, 07/07/2008

    My ex boyfriend and I were joking around one day and he called me snooky. I had never heard this word before and I thought it was really cute. Since we both spoke french I called him bebe (meaning baby). I wish we could still used these names with eachother, but we don't. At the time I thought it was extremely romantic however.

    By Diana Maurer

    From Burnsville, MN, 02/13/2008

    My husband will call me honey-buns-sweet-cake because he knows I will always give him a kiss when he calls me that, just like I did the first time he tried it. Our first daughter, Nicole, was first called Colie-Olie-Iken-Buck by her babysitter, who was trying to be delightfully silly. We have shortened it to Ike, although her sister calls her Colie-Olie-Icki-Butt on occassion! My other daughter is affectionately called Cricket because she is as lucky as the cricket in the movie Mulan. My husband was never given a nickname because I am too much of a stick to move out of my comfort zone - sigh!

    By Kurt Peterson

    From Lincoln, NE, 02/11/2008

    My girlfriend and I came up with names for each other pretty early on in our relationship. I was an overnight bread baker, getting off work usually around 4 am, and I would ride my bike past her house and leave a loaf of bread on the porch. I came to be known as "Porch Loaf", as it was a small sign of my love for her.

    Also, we both have a love for plants and gardening and she has quite an odd assortment of tools and materials for plant care. When I found out she had a bag of dehydrated coyote piss (used to deter critters in the garden) I not only got a little weak in the knees, but "Coyote Piss" became her pet name.

    By John Kaminsky

    From Cleveland Heights, OH, 02/09/2008

    Saturday, 9 February 08

    Six months into my first marriage I began calling my wife "Belle of DelRay" - I worked at a Thorougbred race track and with ten races a day lots colorful names showed up on the card.
    - But Belle of DelRay was the only one I ever liked enough to bring home.
    I often shortened the name to just "Belle" - my wife accepted the name as if it were a sorority nickname for life. I never used her real name again. - though her friends, who did not like me, found it offensive. They actually never used the name - in it's full or shortened form.

    This was almost thirty years ago. - Weekend America helped me remember those times as if they were today.

    By Tom Royer

    From Adrian, MI, 02/09/2008

    My favorite is "Sir Puddle SnortIII". But it will remain second to the nickname my wife gave me nearly thirty years ago. "Slow-Moving Grump" is
    what she's always called me. She gave me the name while dragging me on a long walk which I hated. She even made me a sweatshirt with it written on the back. I can no longer fit into the sweatshirt so maybe it's time for another walk?

    By Valerie Epstein-Johnson

    From Roslindale, MA, 02/09/2008

    At 33, I'm still in the process of accepting my dad's eccentricities, but one thing that used to make me cringe but now makes me feel special is his nickname for me: Chicklet. Like the gum or the baby bird. My brother is "Critter." Coming from a solar physicist who spends his retirement watching PBS and taking every science class on the books at the University of MD, this makes me smile.

    By Laura Gharazeddine

    From San Clemente, CA, 02/08/2008

    These are fascinating-and funny. (My personal favourite is "bee-barf"...lol)

    I have special ones for special people-my late aunt was always "Nuunuu", my daughter is Pookie. (26 years old and she loves it when I call her "pookie" on My Space. Cool kid.) My Silky Terrier is Spark-a-doodle, or Muffin, or Cockroach or Sparkles. (His name is actually Sparky.)

    But my sweetie is always "My Lord and Master" or simply "My Love". He calls me "My Queen". Or best of all- "Gorgeous Nasty Rehead". Yeah-he's a keeper.

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