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I felt like I was 16 again

Posted by Kevin G on Sunday, March 14, 2010

I was walking home from work on Friday when some kids shouted at me from a passing car: "Hey Faggot, Nice Coat!" Wow. That's a word I haven't heard since I was in high school myself. My first instinct was to protest: Um, I've been married for 25 years, I've got a kid in college, and when I was the age of you punks, I had more girlfriends in a schoolyear than you've probably seen in your entire careers!" And then I realized that I had reverted to my 16-year-old self: "Come back here, you sissies, I'll show you who's a faggot!"

Once the initial surprise rush of anger had passed, I began making up excuses for them: Maybe they really did like the coat I was wearing. Maybe there's a basketball tournament in town and they're from some school that has a rival with colors similar to the ones on my jacket. Maybe, the Monet-pattern umbrella I was carrying was outside of their frame of reference and they needed to put it into perspective somehow. Then I thought, nope. They're just punks and philistines. And they probably are.

But the word itself is still interesting. I think the last time I giggled about it was when I was a 17-year-old exchange student in Wales, and my friends there were encouraging me to have faggots and peas at the local chip shop. For those unfamiliar with this dish, a faggot in British English is a kind of liver meatball. (At least it was when I was 17. Although I've been back to the UK several times since, I haven't checked the menus.) And once my friends had convinced me to try it, I found them to be quite tasty. When I came back to the US, I was a senior in High School, and most of my US friends had grown up enough not to be calling each other liver meatballs.

So I was surprised at my intial reaction. But: I have a nice coat. Indeed, it's attractive enough to attract comment by the fashion-conscious, 16-year-old drive-by shouter crowd.  I wonder what kind of reaction I'd have gotten if I'd been carrying my banjo case, my Monet-pattern umbrella and wearing cut-off shorts and my Birkenstocks. I guess when you're a slave to fashion, you've just go to roll with the punches.



8 comments on “I felt like I was 16 again”

edavidt Says:
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @1:09:50 PM

Hi Kevin,

I worked with teenagers for 20 years, and still work as a consultant in school improvement. Teenagers, especially in a group, will say and do things that are without rhyme or reason.

I think a part of the "why" they do this is that basically, for 35-40 hours a week, we put them in large groups of their peers with only one adult present (who doesn't represent a "real" person to the student anyway) and we try to force irrelevant information (at least from their perspective) down their throats. In essence, public schools serve mostly to isolate young people from the community, rather than integrate them into the community.

On the flip side of that, many adults prefer this. That is, they don't want to be involved with young people, they want the public schools to see after them and deliver them as fully formed adults at teh age of 18. In years past, I was actively involved in mentorship programs and community based learning experiences for kids. I think there is great value in such programs.

Anyway, it must be a cool coat.

strumn1 Says:
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @1:40:27 PM

I say put up a picture and let us decide lol.

mandolin123 Says:
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @2:44:04 PM

tater gun

Jane C Says:
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @3:17:11 PM

My Aunty Betty's homemade faggots . . . mmm the best.

Horseshoot Says:
Sunday, March 14, 2010 @7:19:57 PM

And here I thought a fag was a smoke! My daughter's friends always say: "That is so gay!" whenever they do not like something. It bugs me. I try not to make a big deal about it, but, while not a homosexual myself, I respect many people who are.

I want a picture of the coat, a picture of the umbrella, and while you are at it, a picture of you carrying the banjo case wearing the Birkis and the shorts. Just sayin'. Mike

TopCat Says:
Monday, March 15, 2010 @2:29:56 AM

You really know how to tell a tale, Lawrence. This made me laugh out loud - great comments too, especially Mike's!

Kevin G Says:
Monday, March 15, 2010 @5:18:33 PM

Ok, by popular demand, I've posted a photo in my default photo directory so you can all judge for yourselves.
http://www.banjohangout.org/myhangout/photos2.asp?id=15382&photoID=74814&albumid=0

You'll have to wait until summer for the cutoff shorts version.

Cheers to all,

Kevin

Horseshoot Says:
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 @5:07:45 PM

Yeah, the short request was a tad unreasonable. Michael

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