When reading old books, a certain type of person likes to laugh or snicker when they come across some quaint old bit of vocabulary that happens to have changed slightly in meaning in the intervening decades.
You know the things I’m talking about. Describing someone who is merely strange as queer, or someone happy as gay. Mentioning throwing another faggot on the fire, perhaps.
Language changes. We all know this, and most of these instances really aren’t that noteworthy, let alone funny.
Read, if you would, the following excerpt from a novel, and see if you can spot the bit that doesn’t mean what you probably first interpreted it as.
Did you spot it? Here, just to make clear what we’re talking about…
A man leaps out of bed… after grasping at “his vanishing manhood”. (!)
No, this isn’t some erotica title. He isn’t engaging in some early-morning self-abuse. The book is Out of the Air, a justifiably long-forgotten novel from 1920 by the late Inez Haynes Gillmore, who was exceedingly fond of her thesaurus. For “manhood”, in this case, you should read “courage”, not… “penis”.
Sorry. Some things are so horrible they have to be shared. Shared pain is lessened, y’know.