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Monday, June 7, 2010

Wordsmithery . . .

I'm guess I'm behind the times.

Act I, Scene I: I write a glowing review about the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, California. It focuses on a local gal who is part of the cast. Within the story I mention that while she has been doing this for years she will temporarily withdraw from the cast due to the high cost of gas and the 150 mile daily roundtrip required, the related cost of $800-$1000 she incurred, the fact that she is a volunteer and neither paid nor reimbursed expenses. I also mention that a fellow castmember, a girlfriend of hers, who lives in Carlsbad, a coastal city near us, is in similar straits.

The story is published and I find the young lady I have written about is upset because I referred to her "girlfriend." Apparently someone teased her about her "girlfriend" and wondered if she preferred girls to boys.

Her upset, in turn, hurts and upsets me.

There was absolutely no sexual connotation to the use of the word "girlfriend." None. It was simple statement of fact, as I understood it to have been related to me by both the young lady in question as well as her parents. I felt shocked; like I had been slapped in the face. The story praised both the production as well as the young lady. I had researched the story heavily, spent hours preparing it. An ingrate, I thought. I felt betrayed by the gal.

Fast Forward to Act II, Scene I: Evelyn and I are having lunch with a former client and good friend, a dazzingly beautiful blonde gal. I happen to think of the Festival of the Arts, a showcase closely related to the Pageant of the Masters. I remember I have a number of VIP passes that are good through August. I ask our lunch companion . . ."Are you dating currently?" "No, not really."
"Do you have any girlfriends?" (A somewhat startled look. She looks at Evelyn and back at me. I sense I've innocently stumbled into a tripwire). "You know," I sez, "gals you go shopping with, gals you hang with?" "Oh, no, not really," she sez.

"Well, I have some VIP passes to the Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach. I hate to see them go to waste and I thought you and a companion might want to be our guest. Perhaps you and your daughter could use them?"

That, in essence was the conversation.

In the olden days, back when Roy Rogers was King of the Cowboys, when Fleers BubbleGum was cool, and when Flash Gordon ruled outer space, it was perfectly common to talk about a woman and her 'girlfriends.' Quite often Evelyn will go to parties and other functions with her 'girlfriends.' Usually, sorority sisters . . . but girlfriends nonetheless. It is not an uncommon reference. (Much less common is a reference to "boyfriends" in referring to "pals" or "buddies" of guys).

But the times . . . well, they be a'changin' . . . and the meaning of words apparently have changed. A happy and "gay group" means quite a different thing than it did 30 years ago. Apparently a "girlfriend" can now mean something totally different than the original intent. I predict the use of the word "girlfriend" is likely to fall out of favor in common conversation and will be generally restricted to conversations dealing with hot, steamy sex.

I shall have to learn to use the term "girlfriend" judiciously.

It's a sign of the times.

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