Drew opened the screen door and stepped into the coolness of the house. Whew! It felt so good inside. A game of tennis on a warm day was great, but now all he wanted was something cold to drink.
He set his racquet down in the hall and went into the kitchen, wiping his forehead. His mother was standing at the sink. “Hi Mom,” he said, as he headed for the refrigerator. “Is there still some coke in here?”
His mother smiled, “You certainly look like you could use a cold drink all right. Sit down and I’ll get you something,” she said as she reached into the refrigerator. “I hope an RC will do. That was what was on sale at the store today.”
“Mom, a coke’s a coke. RC is just another name for it, and I don’t care what it’s called, as long as it’s cold!”
His mother grinned at him and said, “That must be why, when I sent you to the store for some Kleenex, you brought home that generic tissue—same thing, just another name, right?”
“Yeah . . . and when I get ‘Scotch tape’ it isn’t always real Scotch tape. Sometimes it’s another brand name.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a knocking at the door. Drew went to see who was there, and soon was back in the kitchen with his friend Jarrod.
“Hi, Mrs. Bradley,” Jarrod greeted her.
“Hello, Jarrod,” she answered. “Would you like a coke?”
“Gee, Mrs. Bradley, that sounds great!” he responded. “It’s frightfully hot today!”
Drew caught his mother’s eye, but she made no comment as she reached into the refrigerator for another can of RC and handed it to Jarrod. “Here you are, Jarrod. This should help.”
A few minutes later, after Jarrod had left, carrying a music CD he had come to borrow, Drew wandered back into the kitchen.
“I saw you look at me when Jarrod said ‘gee,’ Mom. He probably doesn’t know we shouldn’t use that word.”
“I’m sure he doesn’t, Drew. A lot of people who would never think of using God’s name in vain just don’t realize that words like ‘gee’ and ‘gosh’ are actually substitute forms of the names ‘Jesus’ and ‘God.’ As a matter of fact, I was thinking as you boys left the kitchen how that ties in with the conversation we were having earlier—about RC’s being another name for coke, and Kleenex another name for tissue. That kind of word substitution is okay. But we should know the basic meanings behind slang expressions. Otherwise we might use words that stand for something God wants us to respect and honor.”
Drew got a curious expression on his face. “I wonder if gee and gosh are in the dictionary . . . what does it say about them?” He left the kitchen again, and returned carrying a Webster’s Dictionary. “Let’s see . . . gecko, geddes. Yeah, here it is! Gee: a ‘contraction of Jesus.’ Sure enough, Mom!”
“Why don’t you look up the word gosh, Drew, as long as you have the dictionary?” his mother suggested.
“It’s here too,” Drew said a minute later. “It says almost the same thing: ‘an exclamation of surprise: a euphemism for God.’”
“For an opposite example,” his mother said, “there are a couple of other words that I hear used a lot—darn and heck. These words aren’t short forms of God’s name. They are short forms of swear words—damn and Hell. I know people who wouldn’t think of saying damn or Hell, but they say darn and heck right along.”
Drew did some more thumbing through the dictionary. “Right again, Mom. Webster agrees with you.” He shut the dictionary with a thud. “Well, that’s interesting . . . but now I’d better get upstairs and clean up before dinner.” Passing the sink, he set his empty pop can on the drain board. “Here’s my empty coke can, Mom . . . or should I say RC?” he added with a wink.
“Doesn’t matter,” she responded chuckling. “Remember, same thing, just another name!”