Wordgame: Baby

I’ve just come out of a two-day water fast, I’ve got the day off work, and, before I turn back to my gleeful-first-draft-of-a-second-novel, I thought let’s pull something out of the elephant box.

I have never been one for pet names. But I am a sucker for an American accent. Any American accent; I am not remotely picky. My friend once pointed out my unconscious tendency to crane my neck overtly and immediately in the direction of any male American accent I hear. Which was sort of reassuring, because at least I know I’m not lying about it.

As such, I went through a phase of fantasising about a heterosexual American man routinely calling me ‘baby’. Don’t know why. But maybe I do.

It’s one of those words that only an American can get away with, as far as I’m concerned. Another one is ‘pussy’. Unless we’re talking about actual babies and cats, obviously. But if we’re talking about actual cats you have to say ‘pussy-cat’; you can’t just say ‘pussy’. To be honest though, thinking about it, it might just be English people specifically who make me cringe when they defy those decrees.

Up until fairly recently I ached to live in the United States. It felt like where I was supposed to be; like my true home. And once, when travelling in the US, I discussed this with a Canadian during a coach-ride-from-Santa-Rosa-to-San-Jose-long love affair. For the record, a Canadian accent is absolutely close enough to trigger my neurons, and they also benefit from much more favourable stereotypes, so there is that. He posited that my desire was the fault of all the American TV I watched in my youth. I did not like that reasoning. But he was probably right.

I watched a lot of American TV. I probably watched more American TV than I did anything else. The only thing that could have rivalled ‘America’ as a prevalent theme in my life was ‘horses’ and, to be honest, the two often happily overlapped. So, an American accent is probably as comforting to me as an equine aroma. It probably reminds me of childhood. Makes me feel safe. Fills the role of my absent father. Relieves the insecure attachments of my past.

Once, I was walking alone, aged fourteen, along a random street in Florida – could not tell you why – and a guy shouted out of their car as they drove past “you’re beautiful, sweetheart!” and the joy that filled me with lives in my cells. Now we could pick that interaction apart, and find many flaws, but we’re not going to. A male American accent to me sounds like relief. It sounds like invitation to someone who viscerally believes they are uninvited.

Which is weird. Logical, but weird. Kinda broken. A weakness unwise to admit to; so easily exploited it could be. So, yeah, if you have the credentials, call me baby. I’m curious to see what would happen.