Don’t/Call Me “Hon”

“What’s yours, Hon?” The voice, simultaneously honking and squawking, arrives at once disinterested and endearing.

Disinterested in tone, endearing in vocabulary. A paradox, I suppose.

And the “yours” portion of the question pertains to a customer’s menu order. An order, not a request or suggestion.

There’s something about status and hierarchy that works inversely with word choice in certain instances or on some occasions. In the “regular” way of thinking (see how I avoided the word “normal”?), those lower on the ladder defer to those on rungs above them.

But not always.

Who talks (more likely, “tawks”) like this? And maybe just as importantly, who gets to call who “Hon”?

The voice is part of a vocal repertoire every waitress in every stereotypic diner must master. Like the one in Five Easy Pieces who won’t let the Jack Nicholson character order toast.

Wait staff, as the current conceit phrases it, who don’t so much interview as audition for their roles.

“What’s yours, Hon?” is the telegraphic form – as though paying by the word – for: What is your order, please? “Hon” covers for both subject (“order”) and politeness (“please”).

I’m pretty sure boys don’t want to call anyone “Hon.” Since boys don’t want to do much of anything.

I’m equally certain that men don’t get to call anyone “Hon.” Ever. Under any circumstance.

It seems funny and out of place when a younger woman calls another – and especially an older woman – “Hon.” Unless they are a diner server. Or wish to be obnoxious.

Maybe there’s an age qualification associated with the right to call another Hon, in addition to the discrimination by sex.

A related, albeit higher-level verbal phenomenon concerns “Sir” and “Ma’am”. As a recipient, I know both terms are associated with age; no one calls 20 year olds sir/ma’am. Each is a title acquired at a certain age. And then there’s no shaking it.

Now what about “Dear.” Never mind as a salutation as part of a letter or an email – and that almost never happens anymore.

Who gets to call whom “Dear”?

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