Precious Angel was four and just starting to sound out words. He and I were in the car alone. (That used to happen a lot. Then he got his driver license. I miss it.) Anyway. I pulled up in front of the grocery store and proceeded to free him from all the buckles, locks, and iron bars designed to protect him from my driving. Meanwhile, he was looking around at signs for new words to master.
"Eek, eek, eek," he said hesitantly. "I can't. What's it say, Jean?" I glanced down the way.
"Ekherd's Drugs," I said.
His eyes got big. "That's a bad place!" he said.
I got back in the car and we had a discussion about good drugs versus bad drugs. I even went into how a drug could be good if a doctor said you should have it, but bad if you bought it on a street corner. I don't know if he understood all that at the time, but I can only assume that eventually it sunk in since he's never failed a drug test administered though the athletic department of Decatur High School or refused his allergy medicine.
It's all in the connotation that makes us dislike a word. Language is every changing. Stoned and gay have evolved. You have to be careful with screw and hoe. Probably, Coke has another first meaning in other parts of the country, but here in the south it still means a soft drink—any soft drink. These are society wide changes.
Then there are words we personally hate because of personal connotations.
I have three. They aren't even particularly vulgar words, but I dislike them so much, I will not type two of them here. The other—belly—I dislike only if applied to a human. I don't mind, "I scratched the dog's belly and he went into fits of euphoria."
Unfortunately, I can't keep my mouth shut and I disclosed years ago to my inner circle my hatred for these words. You'd think they would love me enough not to taunt me with them. Especially, if they were willing for me to be godmother to their child, to entrust me to raise him as my own should the need arise.
But no. Godson's Dad has never gotten tired of mocking me. Not in close to twenty-five years. He did it two weeks ago. We were having a serious conversation and right in the middle, he paused and intoned the three hated words. I slapped my hands over my ears—like I always do—and squealed, "No, no, no!" If could stop doing that, he would stop taunting me. But I cannot. I've tried.
What words do you dislike?