It’s nearly 11:00 at night but I’m writing about something I read (twice) in the local paper this morning.
As you know, another variant of the coronavirus is making its way through Europe and there is concern that it will eventually contaminate the United States. That is important information and I appreciate the media’s coverage…to an extent. In two separate stories, the variant was referred to as an “omicron sibling.”
Language like this reminds me of the first time I heard my manager Becky from Marshalls refer to one of her subordinates as “the red-headed stepchild.” That was in 1996 and I remember the moment because I had to ask her what it meant.
“It’s someone who’s not wanted, Connie,” she said as she walked away from me. “Like a stepchild.“
Becky didn’t like me and was always in a state of walking away from me.
“You can take your break now,” she’d say as she walked away from me in her pumps. “Don’t forget to punch out!”
Click, click, click, click.
“You need to mark down the rugs.” Click, click, click, click. “I’m tired of looking at them!”
“Freshen up your end cap.” Click, click, click, click. “It’s ugly as sin!”
It’s been nearly thirty years since I’ve seen her. I don’t know if I’d recognize her from the front, but I’m certain I could pick her out of a lineup of people who were walking away from me. I can still hear the clicks. I’ll never forget the clicks.
Anyway, after Becky explained “red-headed stepchild” to me and walked away, I wondered what part of “red-headed stepchild” was so awful? The red hair? Was it that at least one of the child’s parents had remarried? Or was it because the person with the red hair was a child?
You’d think we could leave “red-headed stepchild” in the 90’s but I’ve heard the euphemism as recently as a year ago from an educator in a university setting. She referred to an entire department as “the red-headed stepchild.” That was in 2021. And this morning, a potentially deadly virus was referred to as a “sibling.”
Do we really need to refer to people (or situations) we don’t appreciate as siblings or stepchildren? If so, how is it that siblings and stepchildren are the root of an adult’s idea of evil?
Thanks for “clicking” through my blog, which is basically the red-headed stepchild of writing. Or is my blog the infectious sibling? -Connie