FAGGOT! Faggot? Faggot. Faaaaa-gguuut, faggnut, faggy, faggoty, faggotry, faggolicious, faggatrocious, faggofreaky, fag-form, fagalot, foo-faggot*, FagWarning, faggyfag, flit**… and just plain fag. The iterations contain situational nuance apposite to near all contexts.
Synonym: Swish, swisher, swisheroo, swishbuckler
It hadn’t staying power. After a short while, anyone calling someone by any variation was… a fag!
Thus were the playgrounds, playing fields, and schoolyards of my youth. Peak ‘faggotry’ hit in the eighth grade.
Drop a ball, strike out with the bags loaded, miss the game-winning shot, etc. … Faggot! Trip and fall – Faggot! Arrive at school with your uniform school tie up high and snug? Faggot! Cool was anti-fag. Steve McQueen was ultra cool. Steve McQueen was no fag, despite the patronymic imputation.
A teacher complements a guy in front of the entire class. Two, three minutes time, he receives four, five, notes – all reading – FAGGOT!
Peer pressure played as great a role as adult role models and teachers in the making of ‘guys’. No one can better club a guy to the straight and narrow than a peer, a guy. Any failure to perform to expectations was tantamount to faggotry.
And The Point Is?
So, a week before the eighth year of grammar school commenced, scuttlebutt had it Sister Mary (let’s call her X) was assigned one of the two eighth grade classes. For a week I’d prayed to be spared – “please GOD, not her. I’ll never ask for anything again… ever”, I’d promised. God knows best – Sister Mary X it was – for the duration – nine long months.
Needless to say Sister Mary X and I had history, all the 6th grade long. I was her whipping boy. I was the example of what comes to the resolutely truculent – her word. Mine would have been puckish.
Oh what the hell, someone’s got to do it, but why always me? If the Sister thought no other boy was up to the billing I could disabuse her and recommend several on which I’d had dirt. But… for some reason, she really ‘liked’ me.
It wasn’t a week into the 8th academic year that Sister Mary X found something to hang me with. I must have thought it trite enough to forget what it was about. Nevertheless, that first Friday afternoon, I’d been made an example of.
When school day is done, the mates begin their departures. I’m a straggler. “George”, Sister Mary X calls for my attention, and gets it as I pass her desk. “Have a great weekend”, she says with a smile. It was, at once, like… a revelation… from an Archangel – Sister X hadn’t it in for me. I was her whipping boy solely because I could take it without taking it personal and without animus toward her. That afternoon’s encounter was tacit notification that our pas de deux would continue. The “wink-wink” was as tacit.
Things had gone near swimmingly with Sister and me, for the most part. The ‘understanding’ was not, ever, acknowledged, but was in tact. A few incidents played out according to script – everything was copacetic. Then, late in the year… there came something with a trace of sulfur in the air.
Thirty minutes before the Friday school day would end, Sister had apparently gotten her fill of me. Whatever it was must have been seething some time. This was going to be not good.
“GEORGE! Join me in the corridor, would you?” She headed out, and I dawdled, but arrived. “What is wrong with you?”, and she excitedly recited for me a ‘riot act’ and a litany of offenses. I was certain I wasn’t to respond. She threw in some Latin – I’d taken them to be prayers, not imprecations. She charged me with being utterly blithe about my education – kinda angry, like she meant it. In a final fit of exasperation…”George, you are the most indefatigably lazy young man ever put in my charge. You had better fix yourself… or!”
Soooo… you know what I’m thinkin’… that moment? I’m thinkin’… fix myself… what?… … …WAIT! Did Sister Mary X just call me a faggot? WTF?!
Made my way to my seat, took out my pocket dictionary and started hunting for “i-n-d-e-f-a-g-g-o-t-a-b-l-e. Nothing! Ten minutes left to the bell. The seating chart was a matter of the intervention of fate. Girls surrounded me. Now girls are not smarter than guys they’re just more – girly – fully on board with doing as told – always paying attention, always ain’t misbehavin’. If any guy had been that good, they’d be a… …you know.
I asked around. One, Patricia, had never heard of indefaggotable but was sure of ‘indefatigable’ – “as in ‘fatigue” – she’d helpfully added. Five minutes left. Looked it up. It was a Eureka moment – ‘tirelessly lazy.’ What a union! ‘Energetically lazy’! ‘Vigorously lazy’! ‘Dynamically lazy’! The enlightenment had begun, and I was hooked.
Next year, it was to be Will Shakespeare – wizard with words. Knew how to write; dressed like a faggot.
* Foo faggot: see ‘foo fighter’ – UFO (unidentifed flying objects)
** Flit – see “Catcher In The Rye” – flitty = outrageously faggoty.