Friday, 19 March 2010

Stuck In The Middle

In the job centre waiting to sign-on, I am fascinated by those around me - a broad spectrum of representatives from all parts of society. I wonder if before the recession, there would have been such a diverse group of people waiting here for their names to be called?

An exceedingly smart man flicking through a portfolio catches my eye as an unlikely job centre candidate. Luckily for me, I don’t catch his because right after noticing him, he does something unexpected. He addresses a guy sitting next to me minding his own business: “Do I know you?” Before the guy even has a chance to reply, the hopeful city-boy has anticipated his response: “I’m sure you must know me because otherwise I can’t figure out why you are staring at me.” The guy next to me is bemused while I am unexpectedly amused. This is the whole “You looking at me… what you staring at?” routine I have heard shouted on the streets so many times by paranoid individuals with some form of complex, clearly looking for a fight. I never expected the smartest person here to initiate that old chestnut. Shows you how deceptive appearances can be.

Before I get to find out the outcome of this whole scene, my name is called and I am facing a career advisor, going over my forms. As I am not living with The Boy and we are not married, despite the fact we have been together a hell of a long time, I somehow fall into the category of single. I manage to avoid that horrible overly business-like word, partner. If I had been probed further, I would have very reluctantly, said I have a “boyfriend”. “Boyfriend” is a relatively modern term. In the past when sexual and romantic relationships outside marriage were frowned upon, the word “boyfriend” was less commonplace as it carried implications of illicit relationships. In contrast to its female equivalent, “girlfriend”, guys referring to non-romantic relationships with friends do not often use “boyfriend”. In a strictly grammatical sense, a “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” is an "individual of significance'" with whom one shares an intimate relationship. If you separate the compound noun the meaning is somewhat different - a friend simply identified on the basis of their gender.

My problem with “boyfriend” is it sounds childish and temporary, while “partner” sounds so grown-up that over the years all feelings have expired. I am stuck in the middle, caught between two ages – I am too old to use “boyfriend” but too young to say “partner” so never sure how to introduce The Boy. Chatting to a friend, she expressed her dislike for the term “common law partners” (“de facto marriage”, “informal marriage” or “marriage by habit and repute” all sound even worse!). I guess if we actually had our own place and both lived there, I might also fall into that category – such a sterile, legal and unfeeling term.

In my attempts to dodge the ageing process and accept how old I am, I have problems with using lots of words. I prefer being called a “girl” and refuse to be called a “woman” or “lady” because woman makes me sound old while “lady” suggests I am ladylike when in actuality I am half bloke. I have a habit of trying to avoid real names, which is possibly why “The Boy” is always called “The Boy”, resulting in a lot of people never knowing what his actual name is and someone mistakenly thinking I was talking about my son. Occasions like Valentine’s Day and anniversaries have both been shortened down to “V-Day” and “A-day”. What to refer to The Boy as when introducing him to relatively new friends or colleagues, still remains a problem so I decided to do some research and after many hours of browsing and scrolling, came up with a huge array of possibilities that I screened for suitability. Below is a huge list of words under categories of my own invention:

Names that make me want to vomit:

Sweetheart, lover, beloved, baby, dearest, heartbeat, heart throb, honey, love, pet, sugar, treasure, true love, angel, dear one, heart’s desire, honey bunch, lamb, precious, sweetie, babe, button, poppet, sweetie pie, pumpkin, sweet pea, honey bun, sweetness, sugar dumpling, baby cakes, buttercup, cupcake, munchkin, petal, snuggle bear, sugar bun, soul mate

Names that don’t quite work:

Admirer, confidant, fiend, flame, follower, intimate, adherent, believer, fan, fancier, groupie, hound, junkie, nut, partisan, patron, rooter, supporter, idol, worshipper, number one, numero uno, rave, steady, fair-haired boy, passion, lover, desire, enthusiasm, fervour, fire, keenness, paramour, spark, Juliet, Romeo, courter, valentine, infatuate, petitioner, solicitor, suppliant, doxy, bird, cavalier, bf, confrere, fop, swell, blighter, familiar, sheik, cuss, gallant, buster, dandy, Casanova, Don Juan, amoroso, caballero, servant, esquire, philanderer, seducer, squire

Names that sound too adult for my liking and just don’t fit:

Fiancé, spouse, husband, sugar daddy, toy boy, old man, date, crush, the Mr, the Mrs

Names that are too generic or formal sounding:

Friend, man, young man, bloke, dude, lad, mate, colleague, comrade, associate, fella/ fellow, favourite

Names that are laughable:

Beau, steady, booster, buff, bug, cat, devotee, disciple, enthusiast, dear, prize, tootsies, idoliser, main man, young buck, gent, fashion plate, clotheshorse, cowboy, crumpet, the one, muggles

Names that have other inappropriate connotations:

Escort, partner, fiend, freak, courtesan, concubine, gigolo, lady-killer, lothario

Names that are too much of a mouthful:

First and last, love of my life, object of affection, one and only, significant other, apple of my eye, light of my life, life partner, common law partners (de facto marriage, informal marriage or marriage by habit and repute), Other/better half

Names a grandma or elderly relative might use:

Companion, suitor, young man, wooer, darling, dearie, gentleman caller, gentleman friend, chap, suitor

I have to confess that one word among these rejected names, is something that we both “ironically” adopted many years ago to refer to each other because we thought it sounded ridiculous – I will give you a clue… it is in the “Names that are laughable” category….

From this enormous list I am only left with five new names with some inexplicable appeal to try out and gauge the reactions of others when I introduce The Boy as my…

Swain, inamorato, intended, fancy man or main squeeze

Or perhaps I will go old skool and call him my “leman” or “lemman”, an archaic word meaning sweetheart or lover from Medieval Britain. “Leofman” (c.1205) came from the Old English “leof” (a cognate of Dutch “life” and German “lieb”), meaning "dear" and was added to “man” (In Old English “man” was not gender specific and simply meant “person"). This was originally applied to either gender, but usually meant mistress. As we frequently refer to each other as “bitch”, I don’t think “my Leman” will be a problem, although I am not sure if people will know what I am talking about!

If any of you, like me, suffer from this same problem and still aren’t happy with the above then for an amazing array of terms of endearment visit:

(All too ridiculous or suggestive to use, my personal favourites from here are: beard-splitter, cloth ears, clam digger, daddy mack, dreamboat, patootie and puddle-pooper)

If you want something with more glam and chic to impress others try terms of endearment from other languages at:

I’ll let you know how my experimentation goes…

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