I was under the mistaken impression that the word 'gay', meaning homosexual, had been adopted by the international community. The German equivalent is 'schwul', a word which, even an attempt to pronounce correctly will have you sounding like a cross between Graham Norton and John Inman. But I thought that Germans would also understand 'gay'. Most don't.
Whilst I am, due only to my inherent laziness, an advocate for the Anglicization of the German language, sometimes, the Germans insistence on sticking to a Teutonic vocabulary simply means a life less complicated!
Finje has a couple of Miffy books. They are innocent, quite charming and beautifully simple for a five year old learning to read. In one, Miffy has a birthday. Finje loves this book. We have read it so often she knows it by heart. After a birthday breakfast, Miffy gets very excited as she receives three 'gay presents'.
Now I know it's juvenile, but it makes me smirk every time I read it out. Ashamed about my stereotyping of gay presents, nevertheless images of a year's subscription to Ideal Home Magazine or hot pink feather boas refuse to leave my mind.I thought I'd internalised my puerile musings, but Finje had, of course, noticed the subtle chuckle. Not only that, the clever little minx picked up on the precise reason for my smirk.
'What does gay mean mama?'
As I had genuinely thought this would be a conversation we'd be having further down the line, I decided to stick with the original, literal meaning for the time being. A girl who still wants to be my 'husband' when she grows up and is insistent on marrying a unicorn, is probably not ready for that discussion just yet.
I spewed out synonyms like a thesaurus. Happy, jolly, cheerful, colorful, flamboyant, cheery. Finje nodded in understanding. We continued to read.
The very next day, in the local supermarket, by pure chance, we bumped into a great friend of mine who is, in fact, gay. We chatted for a while over the sausage counter. Much to my delight my friend pointed out that I was looking particularly healthy and was rather envious of my light tan.
Finje, piped up from behind a mountain of Nutella:
'Oh yes, my mama is gay today!'
The look my friend then gave me (a mixture of pure shock and a little hope) had me laughing so much I did actually wee a little.
She took the disappointment well!