Is it a Pittsburg, KS thing or just an tender roll of the dice kind of thing? I don’t know, but I liked it. Everywhere I went in Pittsburg, people called me darling, sweetheart, hon, and especially, baby. Paying for some clothes at the thrift shop, the woman said, “Thanks so much for coming in, Sweetheart.” Stopping in a shop to look at antiques, a woman called me darling four times in one sentence. Even as I paid for a delicious lunch at Harry’s cafe, the waitress said, “How did you like you meal, Baby? We’re so glad you came, Baby. You sure you don’t want pie, Baby?” and “Please come back, Baby.”
The endearments didn’t just happen in locally-owned shops either. The receptionist at the Holiday Inn Express when I checked in called me darling, and the one who checked me out the next day called me sweetheart. The pharmacist at Walgreens thought my real name was sweetheart too.
I’ve traveled Kansas up one road and down again, zigzagged across lanky two-lane highways and booked it down I-70 for hundreds of miles on a regular basis. But no place I landed ever embraced me with so many sweet names so often. Maybe it’s just an exceptionally friendly place, maybe I looked like I needed to be called Baby, or maybe it’s just the tilting and surprising ways of the universe on a particular day in a certain Southeast Kansas town. In any case, I’m going back any chance I get.