Rules of address

When you’re queueing at the checkpoint or waiting at the bar
or standing on the forecourt, filling up the car,
a stranger may address you, in a casual way,
maybe remarking on the weather of the day
or the rising price of fuel or the rotten postage stamps,
or the latest information on parliamentary ramps.

Remarks of this sort may be of interest to you
and a sort of conversation may ensue.
Then your interlocutor, familiar,
may have a guess as to your social milieu,
may feel the need to call you by some name,
prepared, no doubt, that you might do the same.

Your feelings on this subject I don’t know
but I, for one, would certainly not do so;
contrariwise, I’ll take a cognomen:
I can think offhand of nine or maybe ten.
In these parts, Ducks might be the name
or similarly Chuck, equally tame,

Words such as Squire or Matey come to mind;
surprisingly, Young Sir I used to find,
despite my fast advancing years.
(I put it down to trouble with my ears.)
The name Comrade I’ll gladly take as red.
(In Russia, perhaps Tovarich instead.)

Females are most apt to be endearing
with names that fall so soft upon the hearing
as Dear or Sweetheart, Love and so on.
The list is long, I’d very easily go on.
But there’s a classic cognomen, please don’t betray it:
only call me Darling if you mean it when you say it.