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The Weekly Blague

The Rise of the Pussyboy

I can't swear to it, but I think the first time I heard the expression "pussyboy" was about two years ago, in St. Louis, a city that's closer to the cutting edge than one might imagine. I was drinking with my brother in (common) law, Jim, at his kitchen table, and he called somebody, probably George W. Bush, a "pussyboy." I didn't give it much thought at the time, because that's the way Jim talks, and the meaning of the word seemed both obvious and metaphorical. I thought it was a more derogatory way to describe somebody who was born on third base and acted as if he'd hit a triple, or simply a pricky guy from a privileged upbringing. Or maybe a gutless person, or a less derogatory word for the all too commonly used "faggot."

Well, according the Urban Dictionary, the primary, secondary, and tertiary meanings of pussyboy are definitely not metaphorical. And not even the quaternary definition--"A person who doesn't like to do anything fun and just stays home and plays video games"--comes close to approximating what I thought the word meant.

I bring this up now because pussyboy is suddenly all over the place, probably indicating a proliferation of pussyboys in America. And though I can’t find my definition online, when people use the word, they do seem to be talking about pricky guys from privileged upbringings. Or gutless people.

For example, about a month ago, I was hanging out at the Jane Street Tavern, when the guy sitting next to me at the bar, a self-described hard-ass southern boy, said to me, “Everybody I meet from Brooklyn is a pussyboy from Iowa.”

And here’s a literary example from a novel I just finished reading, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain, which is full of the expression, rendered as two words: “Becomes engaged to a guy three years her senior who’s getting his MBA, kind of a tight-ass pussy boy and far too impressed with himself.” Then, on the next page he writes, “He drives to Fort Worth, locates the pussy-boy Saab outside the pussy-boy condo.”

Finally, in yesterday’s post, I quoted Gene Gregorits: “I had a Princeton pussyboy acting as an ‘agent’ last winter.”

I’ve yet to use the word conversationally, but if I do, I’d like to use it correctly. So, I await my pussyboy enlightenment.

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