Call me Love Biscuit, or call me Thirsty

When a bartender gives you a nickname with your beer, you've got to feel doubly quenched.

Baltimore ... Or Less

February 10, 2002|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun Staff

Hey, you hear the one about the guy who goes into the bar, and the bartender says ...

"What'll you have, Buttercup?"

Or, "Hey, Pooh Bear!"

Or, "Hi, Poodles!"

You could be called worse -- especially at a bar. One of two things happens to a man at a bar when he's called Poodles or Love Biscuit or Pookie:

1. He slams his fist or fork into the person who issued the ridiculous term of endearment. Very, very few people can pull off calling a grown man "Poodles" without suffering a fate worse than John Walker Lindh's.

2. If the grown man is in Baltimore's Midtown Yacht Club, being called "Poodles" will make him feel all fuzzy and special inside. She called ME Pooh Bear ... ME, ME, ME ... It's a split-second rush. And it's impossible to feel ugly or lousy when the woman behind the bar tracks your entrance, periph- erally watches you grovel in the peanut barrel, looks you in those hungry, give-me-a-beer eyes, and, without a trace of pity or self-consciousness, says, "What'll you have, Love Biscuit?"

Truly, men are so easy.

The nickname queen is Trish Beveridge, who owns the Midtown Yacht Club with her husband, Nathan (who, as far as we know, comes up with no nicknames but rather works about nine days a week at the bar). Trish's quirky practice began years ago when she waitressed in Florida. She and her co-workers would call each other nicknames, and it became a challenge to create new pet names. Plus, it's easier to call customers any name that comes to mind rather than memorize real names. Real names are boring.

Trish brought her nickname habit to the Yacht Club on East Centre Street, where construction workers have been known to become jealous if they overhear Trish call some other guy "Love Muffin." Those are fighting words. One afternoon, a regular customer named Tommy playfully screamed: "Hey! I am Poodles!" Trish had just greeted another customer by that sacred name. After an emergency session sealed by a round of Harp lagers, both sides agreed to share the name "Poodles" for the evening.

Trish proves originality isn't dead. "Hon" is one name you will never hear her utter. "It's such a cliche," she says. As for her husband, she might call Nathan "Pookie," but only if his old wrestling buds are in the bar and can torment him.

His wife's nicknames "give me a grin," Nathan Beveridge says. "Guys come up to me and say, 'Do you mind your wife doing that?' and I say, 'It's just part of what makes up my wife.' " It's powerfully good for business, too, he says.

Compiling a list of Trish Beveridge's known nicknames required methodical and frequent field study, meaning springing for several beers. Now presenting the Midtown Yacht Club's annotated "Nickname Hall of Fame":

1. Pooh Bear. Heard often. Strong cuddly factor.

2. Little Man. Rarely heard. Unfortunate connotations.

3. Little Poodle. See "Little Man"

4. Honey Bear. An affectionate cousin to "Pooh Bear."

5. Baby.

6. Sweet Man. A personal favorite mainly because "little" is absent from name.

7. Poodles. A Beveridge fave -- but not ours. "Poodle" in any linguistic or mammalian context is personally repulsive.

8. Tall Man. Much better.

9. Pookie.

10. Punkin'. A poor man's "Pookie."

11. Baby Boy.

12. Love Biscuit. Sounds like a punk band. Mercifully, Trish has never called a customer "Limp Biscuit."

13. Sweetheart.

14. Darling Boy.

15. Honey. But never "hon."

16. Love Muffin. Good, although it sounds like a Burger King breakfast meal.

17. Snicker Doodles.

18. Nice Gentleman.

19. Wonderful Gentleman.

20. Buttercup. She owns you, big guy.

And for the ladies, Beveridge uses two and only two names:

1. Pretty lady.

2. Lovely lady.

And that, pretty ladies and wonderful gentlemen, is called covering your bases.

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