Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing

I knew something seemed familiar about Friday’s post. Not the feeling (although, sadly, that is too familiar a feeling). No, just now I found that I had given another post the title of ‘Ugh’ several months ago. Oops.

Blogger continues to bug me. I have three people who’s blogs I just cannot follow. They just drop off. Maybe their blog addresses are teflon-coated or something. And then there’s the interface just to type this posting up. Even though I’m putting in spaces between paragraphs, I’m almost certainly going to have to go and insert code for line breaks after I’m finished. My wife does tech work and sets up a lot of WordPress sites and swears by it. I, on the other hand, swear at blogger.

Compounding Friday’s lack of sleep: One of my best friends for years and years got married this weekend (actually, he got married the weekend before; they did a very small ceremony then and had the big party Saturday). We drove 5+ hours on Friday to go to his house for a weekend of revelry. Sleep deprivation feels a lot better when it’s for the right reasons!

This morning, as I was musing over the wedding, I thought to myself about my friend’s new wife, “She’s a great girl.” That got me thinking about one of the last things I wrote in my Writer’s Circle three weeks ago (life has been very, very busy since then). The prompt was a piece from The Great Gatsby, describing the arrival and general scene at Gatsby’s parties, and it struck a nerve. Here is what I wrote then (NOTE: VERY unedited and raw):

“Why is it that there are boys, and there are men, but there only seem to be girls? Up until age 18 or 19, maybe even 20, we draw a distinction for males: “He’s just a boy,” we say, in dismissal of one’s talents or experience. But somewhere in that age, a line is crossed. “That Robert Tate has turned out to be a fine young man.” And lines like this always seem to be delivered with the chin tucked and the chest inflated, for maximum resonance, like a displaying prairie chicken. “Yes, he is a fine, young man.”


But try this: “Roberta Tate is a beautiful girl.” Roberta could be six or sixteen, twenty-six or sixty, for all we know. If we don’t know Roberta, or if she’s not standing before us with her beauty fully on display, all we have to go on is the speaker’s tone of voice.”

Back to the now: My friend’s new wife is my age, somewhere in her mid-forties, and here I am, thinking, “She’s a great girl.” She’s a woman!

I’m probably just poking at a molehill here, and I don’t quite have the mental dexterity today to take this any further. It’s just one of those things that make me go, “hmm.”

11 Responses

  1. It is an odd phrase. Our language is full of them. Glad you had a good time with the wedding! Lost hours of sleep don't seem so bad at all for those events 🙂

  2. Ha! I do this girl thing in my own book. Don't know why except that males want to be considered manly as early as possible whereas females want to retain their youth for as long as they can. Youth (vs. maturity) is much more important to women than men.

  3. I feel your blogger pain. Yeah it is exceedingly odd that women are almost always girls. But we call ourselves that too. A Girls Night Out. The Girls at work. Etc. It really doesn't bother me since I know I'm a woman but it is very odd.

  4. Yeah, I trip over language on the girl/woman, thing too. I wish there were an equivalent for 'guy' ('gal' doesn't cut it) that could be used in the third person. Oh well. But I think Nancy is right on the reasoning behind how we use the words.

  5. I never thought of it this way. Add to it that *women's* youth is also ridiculously important to men, too, so maybe that's why men insist on calling women 'girls'. Although, after seeing five of my good friends this weekend, I'm not so sure how 'mature' men like to be….

  6. I think, though, in some ways it can be like a certain racial term. If someone of that race uses it toward someone else of that race, it's usually all good. But if someone not of that race uses it, it's an insult

    I personally don't usually use the term "girl" very often, though it doesn't bother me when other women do. When I was in the Army, I learned to use the term "ladies" instead.

    However, I find it condescending when a man calls me a girl.

    Double standard?

  7. Sorry sorry you're having trouble with blogger. It works well for me, but I hate, hate, HATE the new interface. I switch it back to the old and pray they never take that away. So often, new is not better!

    Happy 4th!

    Angela

  8. I think a lot of it depends on how it's used, and tone of voice, etc. I will make sure I never refer to you as a 'girl'!

  9. It sounds like you gave up sleep for all the right reasons. And the girl discussion is interesting. I use "girl" a lot with my friends, yet I don't use "boy" for the males of the same age. I'll admit, too, that I'd rather be called "girl" than "ma'am," which sounds frumpy.

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