Venezuelans, and I guess many other Latin American cultures, are notorious for their use of terms of endearment. On any given day, I’m addressed as “mi vida”, “mi
amor”, “mi reina” countless times by perfect strangers. I know there are American expats who have talked about how they like this familiarity and consider it endearing, but I really don’t. I think it’s trite. Having been sort of the baby in the family for so long, each family member developed a nickname or a term of endearment that they only used for me. I became used to feeling special simply because no one ever used my name. I couldn’t wait to have someone younger that I could make up a unique name for and I didn’t get one until my cousin was born when I was 14. Unfortunately, other family members beat me to the punch and everyone called him by the same nickname. Now I have my little offspring to call all sorts of cutsie names, which I’m sure they’ll tell me to stop using when they get older. As a matter of fact, it’s probably one of my favorite perks of being a parent (it’s the little things, right?).
In the Haitian culture, there are many terms of endearment that are used with those you love, too. The difference I think – at least from my upbringing – is that you only use them with people to whom you are close. There are people (my husband being one of them) who will throw out a “cherie” to waitress or someone – female, of course – in a business setting. But for me, it rings bizarre. Maybe part of it is my anglophone side that thinks there should be clear boundaries with relationships, which in turn is reflected by the language you use. Anyway, isn’t it a fact that the more rare something is the more value it has? Well, I feel the same about terms of endearment.
Do you agree with me or do you think I’m being oversensitive? Hey, I’ve been called worse things
P.S. The picture is from one of my favorite movies of all time. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do so when your head’s in a good place. It’s that consuming.