I like being called darlin, by almost anyone—old people, friends, strangers, men. I’ve always wanted to date someone who’d call me darlin. Of course, you can’t force that. The term of endearment has to happen organically. I dated a guy once who called me sugar, in an exaggerated Southern accent. Shuh-gurr. He wasn’t from the south. Not even close. I acted like I liked it, and at first I even thought maybe I did, but inside I’d cringe whenever he said it. He wasn’t comfortable around me. He wasn’t comfortable with himself. One day he just decided that would be my pet name. Sometimes he forgot. In conversation, or arguments, or at bedtime, he called me baby, and that was always so much sweeter, because it came out naturally, unaffected. Baby is nice, if a little generic. But darlin, that one I like. Maybe it comes from growing up where I did. Or maybe it comes from my family. My dad had a pet name for me, and a pet name for my brother, but my mom never did. When you were close to being in trouble, though, she’d call you “little darlin,” as a warning, jaw set, eyebrow lifted. Maybe that’s why I like it. Darlin says, “I love you. Now watch yourself.” You want to be made to walk that line.