Have you met Steven, my euphemism?

The Sig Fig and I have had some conversations about how, at a certain point in one’s life, the world “girlfriend” seems sort of inappropriate. I mean, doesn’t it? It’s sort of a young word, something that brings teenage relationships to mind. (Also I’ve always found it awkward that women over a certain age tend to use “girlfriend” to mean “female friend.” It leads to me wondering if women are gay when they clearly are not.)

And before the whole homos-can-marry-in-select-states thing came up, it was always a question of what you could possibly call your significant other. Partner? Very law firmish. Spouse? Still awkward, even if now it’s a legal reality.

The possibilities I hadn’t considered until recently, however, are “friend” and “roommate.”

Last Thanksgiving when I was with my parents, I noticed that in mixed company my father kept referring to a friend of mine. A very interesting friend, apparently, who just kept popping up in stories. And I was honestly confused for a while–who could he be talking about? My dad hasn’t met a whole lot of my friends, and he doesn’t really know any of them well enough to be telling stories about them.

And then, of course, it dawned on me: he was referring to none other than the Sig Fig.

The same-ish thing happened to me on my recent visit, when I was telling some friends of theirs that I’d just moved in with my girlfriend. A little bit later, one of them mentioned to his daughter that my “roommate” has a greyhound.

At first (and a little bit still, I guess) I was pretty miffed. No one has a problem referring to my brother’s girlfriend as such. It’s not rubbing anything in anyone’s face to acknowledge that I live with my girlfriend. And I’m not trying to engage these people in conversations about same-sex marriage or whether sex toys should be legal or anything like that. I just want a simple acknowledgment that I have a normal, healthy relationship, and I’m not ashamed of it.

And then I went to Oregon for a few days.

My mother was staying with a very good friend of hers who happens to be religious. Now, I’ve known this woman since I was quite small–she actually used to come to Grandparents Day with me in elementary school, because my grandparents would never have come–and she’s a lovely person. Compassionate, loving, all that. But she asked about where I was living, and I said… I live with a roommate.

It was a split-second decision. It just came out. I realized afterward that it was probably the right decision, too. This is someone I see very rarely. She’s not blind, of course–I’ve looked like a lesbian forever–and she’s not stupid, either. But she also doesn’t really need to know about that part of my life. It’s the same way I feel about my grandfather. I don’t have any reason to believe he’d react poorly if he knew, but I also don’t really have any reason to tell him.

This is where the grand point should go. But I don’t have one, so you’ll all just have to deal.

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3 Responses to Have you met Steven, my euphemism?

  1. linaria says:

    let me count the times…

    “ask your friend if she’d like tea or juice” (as if I wasn’t there)

    “so, are you two friends, or roommates, or something?” (something, to the socially awkward cashier)

    “ummm…” (to her very elderly, very Catholic grandmother, upon first visiting our very tiny, very one-bedroom apartment, which very clearly does not have space for a second bedroom)

    this comment doesn’t really have a grand point either, other than that living in one of those select states doesn’t really help those of us who haven’t got legal spouses, and still lack appropriate vocabulary for situations that straight people never seem to have difficulty with.

  2. Sig Fig says:

    I’ve always felt like “spouse” was a portmanteau of “spore” and “louse.” Or maybe the plural of “spice.”

  3. […] at Stake? I’ve written before about the euphemizing (euphemization? Neither of these appear to be actual words) of queer relationships–how it […]

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