Changing Definitions

A little girl sits on the bus next to her friend. She and her friend, as a lot of friends are, are not at all alike. This little girl is sheltered, her favorite clothes brand is Simply Basic, she likes wearing pretty dresses and shoes with a slight heel to make her a little taller. This little girl's favorite books consist of Heidi, she's attemped reading Little Women, Bobbie Keeps Watch, the Bobbsey Twins, old fashioned books like that. She loves Christmas songs, and her favorite is the 12 Days of Christmas simply because she's got it all memorized. You could call her innocent, you could call her old fashioned, you could call her sheltered. You could call her unpopular and uncool, and you would be right. (Well, maybe not the innocent thing...) The boy in the seat behind this little girl and her friend asks a question that this little girl does not understand. She's never heard it before.

"Are you gay or lesbian?"

What does that mean? She's only in 3rd grade. This boy can't be much older than her. Still he asks, "Are you gay or lesbian?"

The little girl hesitates. Ever since being tricked into spelling I CUP the year before, she had been extra careful. She was teased enough for being a crybaby and being short, not to mention having glasses. Her friend sitting next to her on the bus? Her only one. But she knows the meaning of one of those words. In all the Christmas songs she has memorized, in all the old fashioned books, Heidi, Black Beauty, Little Women, gay means happy. She's a relitively happy little girl.

Her friend, whose obviously heard this question before, urges, "Lesbian, say lesbian!"

But this little girl doesn't know what lesbian means. She knows what gay means. Gay, to her old fashioned mind, means happy. So she says, "Gay."

The boy laughs. Her friend laughs.

"I'm... happy," she clarifies, though she's not so happy now. She's on the brink of tears. What did she say wrong?


This little girl grew up. She learned what gay meant. She watched it take the place of words like stupid and retard. She avoided saying it. She learned the slang for it: homo, lesbo, gay. She now knew what she had said, but she didn't like it. She learned that the swastika, now known as a symbol of evil, of the Nazis, once was something that meant prayer. It was a holy symbol.

Why must things have changing definitions? Why do we change the meanings of words from good to bad? This little girl, not so little anymore, wants to sing Carol of the Bells, Deck the Halls, Oh Christmas Tree, without thinking of that embarassing day on the bus.

Gaily they ring out while people sing songs of good cheer, Christmas is here! Don we now our gay apparral fa la la la la la la la la la, Oh, how gaily they're ringing out now!

That's gay!

Which do you want to remember?





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

SilverSnowflakes said...
Mar. 28, 2010 at 6:14 pm
I don't know if my original comment will show up when I was talking about how the Coocoobury song made little kids in my choir all give each other awkward looks, but I just thought I should correct my grammar which should really be "we older kids" not "us older kids", lol.
 
EmseaHailey replied...
Oct. 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm
*smile* thanks.  check out some of the my other stuff if you like this
 
SilverSnowflakes said...
Mar. 28, 2010 at 6:13 pm
this annoys me too! like in my choir we were singing Coocoobury(sp?) and when we got to the line "may your life be gay" I was watching and I was amazing at how many tiny kids were giving each other awkward looks. the director ended up changing the words and us older kids who knew the "real" meaning of gay kept accidentally still saying it.
 
yellowbird said...
Jan. 4, 2010 at 7:30 am
nicely done! why do defintions need to change?
 
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