Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Le Mot Juste

I’m going to talk a little about a kink of mine. Before you start covering your eyes and moaning TMI, I promise, it’s not that kind of kink. And like my early conviction that two boys kissing are the cutest thing ever, this kink started young.

I think I was twelve, about six years after the Barbie incident that got me banned from Peggy‘s house, when I started reading some book. There was a guy and his girlfriend in the car, and she got very excited because her boyfriend had called her “babe.” At that moment her insides went all squishy and so did mine. Then they got in a car accident and she was paralyzed and he was a jackass and she fell for her physical therapist or whatever. The point is she knew it was true love because he called her “babe.” I blame that for my schmoop kink.

There is something about an endearment spilling from the mouth of a guy that fills me with the kind of sweet feeling inside that is usually reserved for the consumption of fudge, getting a book contract, and getting that wink from the love of my life.

It doesn’t work all the time. Jeffery Dean Morgan and Humphrey Bogart have elevated even a mocking “sweetheart” into something to jumpstart my heart, whereas my creepy boss using it all the time made my skin want to run off in the other direction. (Crawling just wasn’t fast enough. )

I love how much you can tell from a pet name. Ranger calls Stephainie Plum “babe”; Joe Morelli calls her “cupcake.” The first time Jake Riordan called Adrien English “baby” my opinion of him changed in a heartbeat. Going back to The Catch Trap, Mario calls Tommy “Lucky.” These names for people we love are our inside jokes, showing that the person addressed is special in some way.

I’m not saying it works for everyone. There are characters who if they uttered even my old favorite “babe” would lose my faith in their credibility. However much Aaron might need it, I can’t see Joey ever calling him that. And certainly I’m not saying that having an ancient cashier hand me my change with a “Here you go, honey” lights my fire.

It may seem like I’m contradicting what I said about the power of actions in my last blog post on the Beau Geste now that I'm praising the power of these little words. I suppose it‘s the juxtaposition, the kind of thing we are accustomed to hearing in a soft feminine voice, (no one thinks twice about a woman using baby, honey, sweetheart, or even sugar) coming from a gravelly throat. Even better if the words are unbidden.

I think that’s why (despite the awful things that followed in the book I described at the beginning) when one of my characters surprises me (and himself) with a even a generic term of endearment, something about it makes warm squishiness ensue.

Is this a solo kink or are there other schmoop fans out there?


Tam said...

It seems to be something people either hate or love (or like a lot). I confess to liking schmoop. Because guys don't use those kind of phrases often then it feels more special. If someone at work yells out "Hey Jim" I never hear him respond "Yes love?" but I have been known to respond that way. I think girls are more prone to little endearments perhaps making those words seem less lovey dovey from a girl but très romantique from a guy.

Anonymous said...

I only like the word "babe" or in certain context "baby" anything else makes me want to cover my eyes - however this only applies when I'm reading gay fiction. In straight/general fiction I don't mind "honey" or "sweetheart" but cupcake would push it for me.

K.A. Mitchell said...

Tam,"Yes, love" does indeed sound quite mocking from a guy's lips. As a girl married to a girl, I definitely think those endearments from a woman sound far more offhand.

Anon, I totally agree sometimes. In fact I SWEAR off my schmoop kink at times because I find it overused, and then someone does it right and I just melt all over again.

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