Conversation with a friend, who coaches his two young girls in basketball:
"So the other team comes in, and one girl points at the basketballs we brought, and says, 'We're not playing with that basketball. That basketball is so gay!' Just what the hell is a gay basketball, anyway?"
"DamnedifIknow," says moi. "Get me another beer while you're up, willya?"
Some weeks later I saw an article on the Internet (and if it was on the Internet, it must be true) that shed some light on this little mystery.
Apparently among the younger kiddikins, "gay" has become synonymous with "stupid" or "useless."
Now this is richly amusing, or tres amusant as one would say if one was very pompous and willing to trust that his readers wouldn't notice the missing accent, because it's too much trouble to look up the HTML code.
My take on this was that it was the natural rebellion of children who are hammered round-the-clock (well, at least in the schools and on TV) with the message that homosexuality is perfectly natural, nay, admirable.
At that age, heterosexuality seems goofy enough; what they make of swanning poofsters and diesel dykes could probably be summed up as: Stupid. Useless.
When homosexual activists first hijacked "gay," I objected.
First, they were robbing the English language of a vital and lovely word. Words matter to me.
Second, the word stolen wasn't as innocent and...dare I say it? gay as they thought it.
My Concise Oxford Dictionary (1964) defines it thus:
"Full of or disposed to or indicating mirth, light-hearted, sportive; airy, offhand; *(sl.) cheeky, impertinent...showy, brilliant, bright-coloured, finely dressed."
But it also lists a secondary, sad undertone:
"(euphem.) dissolute, immoral, living by prostitution"
that might more closely describe the tragic demimonde that homosexuals too often inhabit.
I was assured (...no, pedantically instructed) at the time that English was a fluid and dynamic thing that would change regardless of my hidebound fussiness.
Huh! They were right after all. There's no telling what kids will run with.