Thursday, March 6, 2008

Power of Words

Before I start, I just want to state, for the record, I am not a homophobe. I happen to have a couple of gay friends, and have nothing against them personally. I may not agree with their lifestyle choice, but they are my friends and I love them.

What does the disclaimer have to do with what I'm about to say? Simply this: We should be careful about what we say, because we don't know who is listening or how long they will remember.

For instance, way back in my high school years, somebody started the idiotic belief that anyone caught wearing green on Thursdays meant the person was gay. Don't yell at me; I didn't start it and can't even be sure who told me! But for years, this stupid little phrase has haunted me for the past twenty-plus years.

This was back in the early 80's, where homosexuality was still 'hush-hush'. Only the incredibly brave ones dared to speak out publicly.

My sophomore year, St. Patrick's Day happened to fall on a Thursday, and I remember agonizing over whether to wear green and be labelled, or not wear green and get pinched. I settled for a yellow, screen-printed T-shirt which had a small green stripe in it. Every time someone mentioned pinching me, I simply corrected them by pointing at the stripe. And no, no one dared wear full green that day, that I remember!

But even now, as an adult, I still remember the ones who 'forgot the tabboo' and were teased about it. I'll go to pick out something to wear, and suddenly I'll remember what day it is. In my brain, I know it's stupid, but I still can't get the faces of my former classmates out of my brain.

And it's not just limited to what color I'm wearing.

I am also a product of the label craze. We wore Calvin Klein, Polo, Chic, Lee, and Izods proudly. Recently, I went shopping with my daughter and made the mistake of telling her I used to love my Chic jeans. That did it...she promptly went to another brand! I didn't tell her I used to wear Lee also...

But my new jeans don't have the label on the back pocket anymore. And I'm kind of over the label thing anyway, so it doesn't matter what is on my behind, as long as I feel good in them and they are comfortable. And ditto for my kids.

I overheard a conversation in the store several months ago. A mom was complaining she spent over $800 on her teenage son's clothes.

I couldn't help it. I turned around, incredulous she should spend that much on a 14-year-old boy. "Where do you shop, Abercrombie and Finch?" I gasped.

"Of course. Where else?" she answered, somewhat snottily.

I just shook my head. "JC Penny...Kohls...Sears?"

"He wants to be in style. All the kids shop there. Mine wouldn't be caught dead in Kohls!"

I should mention this was in the morning, and the woman and her friend were both dressed to the nines, and in full makeup. I had just dropped off my little one and had run inside for a gallon of milk; no makeup and wearing jeans and a sweatshirt!

If she's got the money, fine. But I'm not about to spend a lot of money I don't have on a kid who's in a growth spurt!

Hmmm...I wonder if she donates her kid's castoffs to GW Fashions? A&F at a fraction of the cost...

Now if I can only forget what day it is when I get dressed...


Brynn Paulin said...

I remain shocked at how much High School and Junior High shape us as adults even if we think we've gotten past it. I'm constantly mindful of it with my kids...not that I can stop whatever the other kids do, but at least I can try to lesson the blows and/or the target area. But they don't call it the formative years for nothing, I guess.

Kelly Kirch said...

You're very straight. Even if you weren't you shouldn't have to worry about the color issue. That was something your school did and not nationwide thank goodness. Who cares if you're labeled? You know what and who you are. Be proud of it.