It is quite possibly the simplest and least inventive pet name to use, one that doesn’t take much thought, or need to have a story behind it, and probably the most common nickname in existence. It’s really pretty generic, milk toast compared to the others, if we’re being completely honest.
But it makes me weak in the knees.
It spins my head, lights up my soul and makes my heart skip a beat.
Hearing it, or reading it in texts aimed my way, does things to my brain I cannot explain. Maybe it’s because I never really had a boyfriend, or heard my ex-husband, use a nickname for me on a regular basis.
Being called “babe” makes me feel seen, appreciated, wanted…claimed by someone.
My younger feminist self would be appalled, I’m sure. “I have a name!” But it makes my middle aged self giddy like a schoolgirl. I’d even say that it makes me swoon.
The first time someone had used this common pet name with me was during a one night stand in Iceland. Odd but true. And I loved it. I basked in the glow of it, my eyes shining like stars as he softly murmured it into my ear or whispered it to me as he kissed me. He even used it while texting me for the next few days…
Afterwards, when I had landed back on my home turf, and the afterglow had dissipated, I realized that it was most likely just easier than using (or remembering) my real name after a night of pub crawling.
Less to think about, fewer details to remember at the time – and afterwards.
But I didn’t care, it still made me light up. It still made my heart race. And that was more than enough.
I was hungry for that feeling.
During my longterm marriage I rarely enjoyed the reward of a pet name. We tried to incorporate it during the dating period, Bubba and Chick, but only because someone else had “named” us during a very drunken, crazy night. We signed cards and gift tags with these newly designated nick names, for awhile…
But it had a shelf life, eventually it slowly faded away. We outgrew it somehow.
The story behind it not holding up to the test of time.
I realize now, that in my marriage, we rarely used each other’s names during regular conversation, let alone during intimate times. I remember trying to make a conscious effort to use his name at different points of our relationship, hoping he would do the same, trying to personalize our interactions somehow, but it always seemed clunky and odd since it wasn’t the way we spoke to each other usually.
We just spoke at each other I suppose.
When I did use his name, I felt as if I was trying too hard to connect, or forcing a sense of what I believed should be “normalcy”, when he didn’t seem to want or need it.
We also never said each other’s names during sex. Not in a whisper, or a request or in the throes of passion…no worries about shouting out the wrong name that’s for sure.
How uptight were we?? Add that to the red flag list.
Then I met a guy…
And he called me “babe”.
And I lost all sense of control, my brain short circuited every time he said it – or used it in a text. I would reread it to make sure I had read it correctly, or replay the conversation, listening to his tone when he used it, in my head, and I would smile from within.
My heart would swell.
Just asking what I got in the holiday gift exchange, comforting me in a moment of doubt, connecting with me at the end of the day, or just asking what I wanted to order for dinner he would slip it in.
“What did you get, babe?”
It created the same physical response for me, every time.
I would glow. Every endorphin in my body would open up to pull it in. To absorb it.
I am certain that if you did a CT scan of my brain at the time, it would be lit up like a Christmas tree every time he said it. I can’t explain it, I just basked in it. It wrapped around me like a weighted blanket, calming and soothing me, hugging me tightly.
He used my name too. Texting, talking…during sex. It was such a turn-on, so intimate and personal, I had forgotten what my name sounded like until I heard him say it so easily, and so often. He trained me to use his name and pet names this way, at first it was like learning a foreign language, but eventually it felt not only normal but natural.
I learned a new language that included baby, sweetheart, sexy, stud…and I used his name often. It was like glue, or maybe a salve? Hard to determine, but in any event, it created an emotional bond for me deep down in my soul.
And now that guy is gone. And nobody is calling me babe…or saying my name in bed.
And I miss it. I crave it.
Generic maybe, but the queen of the pet names in my book. I am a sucker for it.
Just call me babe.