Last week we ran a story in the Moxie section about how some women cringe when men address them with certain cutesy nicknames. Particularly offensive were salutations such as Honey, Sweetheart, Darling, Sugar and Baby.

Personally, I'm partial to "ma'am" when addressing women of a certain age with whom I am not acquainted. And I've been known to call young females "dear," because I think they are.

But some women take umbrage when spoken to in a familiar way by total strangers. And I can't say that I blame them.

Gone are the days when kindly old men could say hello to a pretty young woman without being maced.

But the other side of this story is men. If women think they are victims of insensitive slander, they should try growing up in our world.

Skippy and Slick

Try a few of these on for size: Shorty, Half-pint, Punk, Kiddo, Dip-wad, Junior, Skippy, Beans for brains, Ears, Slim, Booger and Putz.

And those are just some of the ones we can print in a family newspaper.

Guys get used to derogatory nicknames early in life. They actually are assigned as an act of acceptance in that great hormonal club of being male. You just hope they don't stick for life.

Middle school monikers like Pudgy, Porky, Big'un, Wide Load and Tubbo were routinely assigned to those who were overweight and destined to become better known as Big Man, My Man, Night Train, Caterpillar and Refrigerator when they grew up to become highly paid offensive linemen.

Cool guys often earned names like Slick, Snake, Slim, My Main Man, Groove, Smooth, Breeze and Killer.

Geeks, however, suffered the worst, being saddled with names like Slug, Slime, Brainiac, Bookworm, Momma's boy, Chicken, Cat Box and Bait.

Cruel coaches

But, believe it or not, it's even worse for athletes. Coaches can be the cruelest of all when it comes to degradation by insinuation.

The humiliation heaped on boys when they are being challenged to reach their potential on the fields of competition can be atrocious.

If your parents called you those names in the grocery store, they would be arrested for child abuse. Thus, men grow up with a hardened shell when it comes to nicknames.

Not that they don't hurt our feelings or make us mad. They do. It's just that somewhere along the pathway to puberty we learn that it's just part of the passage into manhood.

Therefore, we see no harm in using what we consider genteel, disarming or charming ways of addressing women.

But, as usual, we are wrong.

So, please, just call us Bubba. It's short for Brainless-Unaware-Beastly-Barbaric-Android. It's probably the nicest thing we've been called all day.

Reach Ken Burger at kburger@postandcourier.com or 937-5598.