I've been thinking about the term of endearment 'Honey'. To me, it speaks of an intimacy reserved for very specific relationships, specifically one for people in a long term relationship. Perhaps this is because it was my parents' choice when speaking to one another; 'Sweetie' was always used for us kids. Often they would use it in passing, almost as if it coincidentally happened to be both of their given names.
"Do you, Honey S., take Honey V. as your lawfully wedded...?" the rabbi would have said.
It was most often said with affection, but my favourite was always when they used it during an argument. My parents have never fought, not once. They argue, debate, disagree but never fight, and frequently, when in the midst of one of these 'discussions', they would toss out an emphatic Honey. Now this was not, as one might see on WASPy television shows, a way of ensuring us kids that this was not heading for family court. Rather, it was, in the nicest way possible, a way of saying, "Actually, you block head, I'm right."
Other times, it was said accompanied with a sigh. The adult sigh is, I feel, a gift with purchase when a couple has children. I have a childless aunt and uncle who I don't believe have sighed since the 70's. It's not as though my parents' sighing Honeys were always directly about us, but rather the state of their lives in general. Even if it was commiseration about work, the undertone was still, "Sucks about your job, honey. Would sure suck less if on top of that we didn't have these three schmucks running around our house."
I have many terms of endearment for friends.
'Sweetie' is the most general. It can be used for any female friend and, in theory, any mincing homo that would appreciate the female allusion. Sweetie is also the whitest term of endearment. You see it all over predominantly Caucasian shows. Think Friends, Desperate Housewives and Mad About You, the last of which pretty much jumped the shark on Sweetie.
'Baby' or 'Babe' is what I use for my nearest and dearest. While most of these have crept so far back on the back burner that I don't think we're on the same stove anymore, the original usage was meant to imply that we were closer than others. Sometimes this was true. Babe is frequently used when giving advice, counselling or even disputing, which makes it akin to 'Hon'. It is very important to note that Hon, while a diminutive of Honey, is by no means related to the topic of this discussion. It's like Jackson 5 Michael and post-nose Michael. Different entities entirely.
I suppose a paragraph on male terms of endearment is required. These are limited to your basic 'Dude' (usually a greeting or as a replacement for their name, always emphatic), 'Bud'/'Buddy' (only for nice guys) and a slew of Ebonics-inspired pronouns like 'Homeslice', 'Homeskillet' and 'Bizatch'.
'Lover' is always meant in jest and can be said to members of either sex. This can never be uttered to an actual lover otherwise there ain't gonna be no more lovin'. Trust me.
'Honey' is for the actual lover. Or so I imagine. My new thing when sizing someone up and judging whether or not we have a future with an adopted Himalayan whistle kid together, is to ask myself, "Do you see yourself calling him Honey?" Not like Honey-our-love-shall-light-an-eternal-flame-in-the-Kingdom-of-Heaven! More, How-was-your-day-Honey? or Honey-can-you-pick-up-some-goat-for dinner? or Honey-that-goddamned-whistle-kid-got-out-of-his-cage-again. If I cannot imagine asking him these questions, then there is no future. End of story. We may continue the lover-ing, perhaps even form a close friendship, sometimes even after the lovin' up is done with. But without a Honey dream, it ain't happening. And what if there is? In this case, I usually turn into a mute with no ability to actually be my delightful self, but rather make lame jokes about SNL or fidget with my sweater, which has all of a sudden become too small and oh god, why do I look like such a mess?!
Presuming we can actually get through my initial psychotic episode together, my beehive is rarin' to go. You may insert your own 'honeycomb' and 'dripping' innuendos now.