The Word We Must Not Say

“What’s guy doing?” Erma asked me as a gentleman taking a stroll with the aid of his cane passed us on one of our “very fast” bicycle ride adventures. He had stopped for a moment to say hello and compliment Erma on her bicycle, and then continued on his way. “What’s guy DOING?” she repeated in her loudest possible voice.

I wish I was one of those mamas I always hoped I would be, namely the kind who has a really great response for every situation. I never do. I usually get myself into more and more difficult situations, as each of my terrible responses leads to another question and an even worse response. Kind of like my non-mama conversations.

“Erma, you don’t point to people and call them ‘guys.'”

She stopped her bike and considered this. “What do you call them?”

“That’s a man. A nice man who said hello to you.”

“Oh,” she said. “What’s MAN doing?” She started pedaling again, and I hurried to catch up to her as she repeated herself loudly, in case I, and the rest of the neighborhood (including GUY), couldn’t hear her.

“He’s just taking a walk. Just like you,” I said.

“I want to take a walk with that man,” she said.

Not a guy.

Fortunately, she could not bike as fast as the man with the cane, so we did not have to have another odd encounter at that moment.

This led to something else, though. The next time I was talking and casually inserted the word “guy” into the conversation, Erma gasped and said, “Mommy! You’re not supposed to say GUY! You’re supposed to say MAN!”

Not a guy.

I never realized how often I say this particular swear word, but apparently it is a real problem I have, based on how often Erma has to correct me.

I can’t go back now. I can’t possibly explain that “guy” is not really a horrible word, but just not a nice way to yell out about some poor person who is just taking a solitary stroll around his neighborhood.

Poor guy.

Er, man.



4 responses to “The Word We Must Not Say

  1. The word “guy” seems to be entrenched in the vernacular. You may have a losing battle on your hands.

    Common too is the use of “guys” to refer to a group of people of mixed gender. I try to avoid that usage myself.

  2. I do the same myself; it’s guy this and guy that for everything, even for women lol. My toddler now calls any male gender “boy” even if that “boy” is 50 years old.

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