The semi-affectionate term I use to describe the guy I am currently involved with, dating, or have a heavy crush on at the current time, when referring him to other people. For example: How are things with you and the boy
? Well, the boy
and I are working through things right now. Or: I'm planning on hanging out with the boy
tonight, so I'll have to catch you later
It is less specific than my boyfriend or the guy I'm seeing or using his name over and over as a point of reference. I like using it because it implies that I see myself, in one way or another, as still being a girl and not always a woman, something I don't want to cling to but something I also don't want to dismiss altogether as I grow older. Even if dating leads to marriage, I am still starting this out as a girl and working my way into womanhood, mentally and otherwise.
I also like the external references it makes to men, usually in Southern short stories: What on earth has gotten into the boy? Has he lost his marbles? Or: How will she manage all that livestock without the boy? It inspires the fact that men are, in some fashion, beings to be contended with, creatures of frustration for women because they often cannot communicate on the same level. Also, as a joke, it can imply that a man can be seen as a hired hand, as someone who provides a service and nothing more. I can't help but see the men I allow closest to me as having this capacity.
I use it almost exclusively when talking to other women, and I'm sure it's not viewed as a positive way to refer to men; at least, I'm sure that's what the boy would say. But I do tend to allow at least one bad habit when I am putting my heart on the line and making myself vulnerable. It makes me feel just the slightest bit less naked when the spotlight comes on, and I am fully exposed.