If you don’t live in Baltimore, aren’t from Baltimore, or have no relatives in Baltimore, go ahead and stop reading here.
This is only for Baltimoreans.
As a woman of a particular age, growing up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, a time when there was far more leeway given to those who used endearments to the fairer sex, I remember being called “sweetie,” “darling,” and “honey” by all sorts of older men who really shouldn’t have. I doubt most of them had bad intentions; the cultural norms at that time were different than today. Did I like these diminutive expressions of familiarity. No, not really. I usually found them condescending and even a bit disrespectful. Did I call them out on it. Nah, I didn’t think it was worth the bother.
Flash forward several decades. I’m older now, and no longer prone to attract these types of random flatteries. Imagine my surprise when a potential customer at my business called me “sweetie.” I had never met the older man before, only emailed on a couple of occasions. He had no cause to call me that if he had forgotten my name…I had just handed him my business card. Why would he think it was ok to call me that? Has he been living under a rock for the past 20 years?
Now, I myself am absolutely 100% guilty of calling people “hon.” That’s a different story. In Baltimore, everyone is “hon.” It’s a gender-neutral form of address that Baltimoreans pretty much accept as standard practice.
Not “sweetie,” though. Never sweetie.
Please, folks, read the room.