About a million years ago (it seems) when the Vietnam conflict was still raging, quite a lot of US military personnel came to Sydney on R and R leave. Often these young men would stay with volunteer families. They were free to come and go as they pleased, but were always welcomed to join in family activities. These 'activities' usually consisted of picnics, parties, barbeques, etc and friends and relatives would arrive at all hours of the day and night to help them 'feel at home'. At any given time there would be three or four young people in attendance so the visitor could let his hair down and not feel too shy.
Most were friendly and seemed to have a great time. One young man though really gave me the willies. His conversation seemed to consist of two phrases "Yes ma'am" or "No ma'am". Even after a week he still called every female 'ma'am'. It annoyed me so much that for years the word grated on my ears.
Of course, looking back on it, I guess he was just terribly shy and we must have overwhelmed him.
Unless it is by a special someone, being called things like dear, darling, darl, love, sweetheart, sweetie, etc, invokes a very similar reaction to Margo's.
I once worked in a company that had a number of travelling reps. Every Friday they would come into the office to do their paperwork and have their sales meeting. One of my jobs was to oversee their expense accounts and to calculate their commissions. Most of the reps were okay and I got on well with them, but one, a typical smarmy, glib, full-of-himself super-salesman always managed to rub me the wrong way. He fudged his sales figures trying to get more commission than he was entitled to, he blatantly padded his expense account and pooh-poohed the need for receipts, when trying to get away with something, he always put a hand on my shoulder and he always called me 'darling'.
One day it got to me and I spat the dummy. I read him the riot act about company rules about his paperwork. He leaned close and gave me a half smile saying something like "Aw come on, Darling, don't be like that. Don't make life difficult for me." As he spoke, the hand landed on my shoulder.
I pushed the hand away and hissed at him, slowly but loudly. "I am not now, never have been, and never will be your Darling. And if you ever touch me again, I will make sure you never function as anyone's darling!"
At that moment I realised that all the other reps, the Manager, the Managing Director and the Chairman of the Board who was visiting from the Melbourne office had been heading for the conference room but had stopped in their tracks when they heard me.
Always quick on the uptake, my tormentor moved to join them saying, "All right then, Madam, we'll keep this impersonal from now on in, shall we?"
All I could think of to say was "And don't call me Madam. I run a respectable cat-house!"
I dreaded that meeting ending, I was sure I'd lose my job over the incident.
However, I found out later that the GM had reminded all reps of the need to stick to company rules and show proper respect to their colleagues.
The one I really loathe is 'girlie'.