Banshee

Banshee: (n) in Irish legend, a female spirit whose wailing warns of an impending death in a house.Dictionary B

Although I am often surprised by Webster’s true definition of a word, this particular rendition really took my breath away.

It’s because when I was a child, I had an aunt who screamed at the children running in a room, telling us to settle down and stop acting like a “bunch of wild banshees.”

I did not know what a banshee was, nor did I care to ask her to explain. I just assumed that banshees were children who were having fun, which for some reason or another, drove this old lady crazy.

  • I knew “banshee” was not good.
  • I knew it was an insult.
  • Just like I privately knew, in my young spirit, that when my aunt used the words hillbilly, worthless slut, wetback and nigger, that she probably wasn’t being complimentary.

So in a sense, banshee became associated to me with the word nigger. In other words, I knew it was bad and I knew I didn’t want to be one, since it made my aunt so pissed off.

Oh, yes, did I fail to mention? She thought that the black people in America–the niggers–were just as uncontrolled as we banshees.

So I grew up a confused young man who was offered a lexicon of terms, which if I accidentally used in public, my parents–and aunt–would quickly silence me, expressing their displeasure over my timing.

I was a child of Middle America, instructed in “public talk” and “private talk” … cautioned to never mix the two.

 

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