Things I Said Before I Knew What They Meant

May 15
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For most of my early life it was my mother’s goal to keep me in a social bubble and upon reflection, I must say she achieved this with great success. Most of my peers knew all the juicy stuff long before me, meaning I learned all the down and dirty details from them. If it had to do with the male anatomy, sex, drugs or anything in an R rated movie I was completely clueless (even well into high school, bless my heart). But I played along like I knew what was up, like I was cool.

By my reasoning, the easiest part of posing like I was in the know was to use the vernacular of the edgy kids with older siblings and new wave hippyish parents. I can’t remember how many times I was called out on not knowing what I was talking about.

These are the things I said, before I knew what they meant.

Hot As Balls (circa 8th grade)

When this little gem of a phrase starting floating around middle school, I had no idea exactly which type of balls were being referenced. My yet-to-be-corrupted mind thought, “Do the balls at PE really get that hot?” All I knew was, whichever balls these people had been touching were scorchers, because the delivery of that line was always so dramatic.
It’s hot as baaaaaaaals in here!  

Then one day I heard a boy talking about how his balls were so sweaty from the built up heat in his undies. (Lightbulb!) “Grody to the max,” I thought. I never said “hot as balls” again.

Use A Rubber (circa George Michael singing, I Want Your Sex)

First of all, gross. Using that word is like barfing up a chunk of 1987. Men over 40 who work at mall arcades are the only people still using that word today. Also, 6th grade girls who don’t know what it means.

I knew it was something scandalous – which made it even more exciting to say – but beyond that, I was only guessing at it’s definition. My best estimation was: an item people wanted when they were kissing. This wasn’t a phrase one can really work into conversation that often, so that helped.

Then something unexpected happened: I laid eyes on an actual rubber and was offered an in-depth explanation. My friend’s dad had not only shown her one and told her how and why they are used, but had also given her one which she could use to educate her peers. She provided me with the full presentation, leaving me with even more questions. Like, what is a penis? As far as I knew, that thing was called a ding-dong. Also, what part do ding-dongs penises play in getting pregnant?

Next, something totally out of my control happened: that summer I watched the movie, Howard The Duck, with my parents and their friends. We were visiting my parent’s friends in the Cayman Islands and I was the only kid there. Choices at the island video store were limited, so we had to take what we could get, movie-wise. There comes a point in the movie when the human-sized, talking duck (Howard) is told he needs a rubber for his date. I quickly dart to the bathroom due to extreme embarrassment from hearing that word (and knowing its meaning) in the presence of my parents.

Once I was in the safe haven of the bathroom, I couldn’t leave. I was paralyzed with a fear that my parents would confront me about my rubber knowledge. About ten minutes later, my mom came to the bathroom to check on me. I lied and said I had diarrhea to deflect from the awkward situation Howard had put me in. I would rather be bored to tears in that bathroom than discuss rubber usage with my parents.

You Must Be Trippin’ (circa high school, when people started trying acid)

This one made sense to me. If you were acting crazy, it was because you were off balance…ergo, you trip.

Virgin (5th grade, bitches)

The talk around the 5th grade lunch table was Madonna. Like A Virgin was the hot single everyone was buying on cassette. With a scheming smile in her eyes, one of the girls at the table asked, “Do you guys know what a ‘virgin’ is?” She was the girl with older sisters. Everyone at the table was silent, then I spoke up. “Yeah! It’s like, an alien.” This was what I really believed. Virgin = alien.

She threw her head back and laughed. “Oh my gawd, you have no idea. You are so straight! It means you have never had sex.” Sex? What is that? Why and how would you have it? Why is everyone so obsessed with talking about ding-dongs?

You would think the missteps in my slang lexicon ended there, but just last summer I found myself doing the back pedal again after an instagram hashtag gone dirty.


My friend told me a story which included a real life man named, Swayne. “That name is so fun to say!” I exclaimed. Stop now and say it out loud with a little attitude…fun, right? It became a word I would use when I thought something was awesome.
Ex: That dinner was so swayne! 

While out to dinner with another friend, I explain to her how incredible it is to use this man’s name as an adjective. She agrees and we use it excessively throughout dinner. Then we take a picture which we post on Instagram including #swayne. Later that night, we notice some activity around the hashtag and discover this is a slang word with an actual definition. Feel free to click here for the meaning, but be warned it is not G-rated.

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