My wife Carol has a pet name for me — but it’s not what you are thinking. I’ll show respect for the family audience and won’t spell it out here, but it’s seven letters, starting with “a” and ending with “e.”

Oh, wow — you came up with it right away. I guess it is what you were thinking. My bad.

Anyway… Now that you know the name, I trust you’ll believe me when I say she uses it affectionately. Most of the time. She’ll use it in a playfully teasing way when we banter over some minor transgression. Here are some sample exchanges:

  • CAROL: “I’ll be ready to leave as soon as I put on my makeup.”
  • ME: “So — you’ll be another forty-five minutes, then?”
  • CAROL: “Lay off, [pet name].”

  • CAROL: “How many times do I have to tell you — my yoga pants do not go in the dryer!”
  • ME: “I guess you should have told me at least one more time.”
  • CAROL: “Really, [pet name]?”

  • CAROL: “Could you take this package to the post office for me?”
  • ME: “Sure. What should I do with it once I get there?”
  • CAROL: “You are an unbelievable [pet name].”

It may seem a little harsh out of context, but if you could hear her tone and see her expression… Well, I guess “harsh” is probably a correct assessment.

As you may have surmised from the dialogue above, she tends to bellow coo my pet name in response to something I’ve done that, perhaps, was not quite up to her standards. The laundry, for instance — or I’ve paid the bills online, but I’ve transposed the numbers and now our checking account is overdrawn by $10,000 — or I’ve made her half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to take to work for lunch but instead of cutting one slice of bread in two, I’ve made it open-faced and forgot to wrap it up and she’s found the condiments smeared all over the inside of her tote bag. But don’t you think if you do something nice for someone, they should be appreciative of the effort — even if it’s not your best effort?

I know she really doesn’t mean anything by it, but I have to admit it does get under my skin on occasion. When I’m feeling that way, I take a deep breath, remind myself of the old adage regarding sticks and stones, and then “accidentally” toss her chiffon blouse in with my sweaty t-shirts.

Sometimes, I can be a real [petname].