As we're well aware, language is constantly changing. It's fluid, like a river, and sometimes we pick up "debris" that gets carried along with the rest of our speech and becomes one with our language.
My grandparents never had air conditioning, and barely had need for a fan. After working in their garden, and sitting down on their creaky, metal glider with a huge glass of ice tea (complete with a long-handled spoon, to stir up the sugar), I knew what "hot" meant. It meant water droplets dripping down my forehead. It meant smelling the pungent aroma of sweat. It meant damp armpits and slick legs.
Last spring, in the middle of a lesson and overwhelmed by a hot flash, I blurted out, "I'm so hot!"
All of a sudden, I had the attention of my entire class. Their eyes widened. They glanced at each other, trying to ascertain if they had heard me correctly. When I saw their facial expressions, I quickly shouted out,
"I don't mean I'm hot like Beyonce, I mean I'm sweaty hot!"
However, I'm not sure they were convinced. I think they had this little nugget of belief, thinking that I really perceived myself as "hot."
Same classroom, different set of victims, different school year. This fall, I was telling a story about my childhood. It was summer, the summer I broke my arm when I fell off the high diving board (#1 in my Gawky Hall of Fame). I mentioned I put on my thongs
All eye movement ceased. Their breathing stopped. Their mouths gaped open.
I then quickly explained that when I was a kid, flip flops were called thongs. But it was too late. The damage was already done.
|photo by KalebHermes|
There are now 25 kids who will need to see a psychiatrist when they are older because--in their mind's eye--they saw their teacher in a thong. And it was not a pretty sight!