conversationally…

I really need to finish up this site.

Anyway, that was for free. Actually, there was something I’ve been meaning to write about since yesterday. My husband and I argue and discuss odd subjects. From time to time, we’ll argue about the meaning of the word. For example, I once tried to use “cleave” in a story as I described something separating (this was a while back, I don’t remember, OK?). My editor cut it out, looking at me weirdly, saying that not everyone knew what cleave meant. I told my husband (a copy editor) about it later on, and he looked at me weirdly, thinking that cleave meant to put together. Turned out we were both right – the modern translation of the word means to separate, while the old version (like the version used in the Bible) means to put together.

So yesterday, we were wrapping up a weekend that was mostly spent together (except for Saturday night, when he worked and I cleaned) and I was telling him how sexy he looked in his “wifebeater.” This was to say he looked sexy in those tight white tank tops that guys wear as underwear. Then we began discussing the origins of the nickname. He theorized that perhaps the nickname came from episodes of Cops and other reality TV shows that showed domestic violence suspects (wearing the aforementioned tank tops) being arrested after allegedly beating their wives and voila – a nickname was born.

Now, let me just add this disclaimer: I do not, in any way, condone domestic violence, wifebeating or the nickname “wifebeaters.” I am merely posting the results of my research on the origins of the nickname and my own personal experience with it.

That said, Trinity and I did a Google search on the term and found this blog post from PlanetDan:

I was at Target over my lunch break (to pick up the Gilmore Girls Season 2 Box Set – Yippee). Sometimes going to discount chain stores is like visiting the zoo. It’s like watching wild animals in their natural habitat, only for dumb humans. For instance, I got to watch (and photograph) a fun exchange between a couple frumpy clueless women and this older-than-average Target employee. Seemingly unaware that the term “Wifebeaters” was not a brand name akin to Fruit of the Loom or Hanes, they caused quite a hullabaloo that went something like this:

Trashy lady: “Scuse me, you got Wifebeaters?”
Elderly Target employee: “Whitebeaters?”
Trashy lady: “No, Wifebeaters.”
Elderly Target employee: “I dunno let me check.” Gets on walkie talkie. *beep* “Frank? Do we carry Whitebeaters?”
Frank: *beep* “Whitebeaters?”
Trashy lady: “No, Wifebeaters, W-I-F-E, Wife, like as in you beat your wife.”
Elderly Target employee: “Oh goodness, oh my, I don’t think we carry anything like that.”
Trashy lady: “They are T-shirts. I was told to get Wifebeater T-shirts.”
Elderly Target employee: “Oh, well you may want to try Walmart.”

Where else could I have witnessed that?

OHMIGOD. Talk about hysterical laughter. Trinity told me I needed to save that for my blog. Anyway, the theory makes sense, considering an experience we had a few years ago when I was a Pulliam Fellow/intern at the Arizona Republic. Trinity and our friend Rita came to visit me in Phoenix, and I had dragged them up to Sedona. We had stopped for some of the misters at a restaurant (oh yeah, and food), and Trinity had gone to the bathroom. An elderly lady came up to Rita and I at our table and warned us that Trinity (being a black man in a “wifebeater”) looked like a – you guessed, a wifebeater. She was urgent and totally sincere, kept telling me that she knew “his type” because she worked as a volunteer at an emergency shelter, taking calls from domestic violence victims. Rita and I didn’t know whether to laugh or get angry, and actually, neither did Trinity – he is so far from that whole stereotype that its, dude, its not even possible. Anyway, I think I have an old picture from that time.

LOL. Trinity doesn’t even like wearing stuff like that – “wifebeaters” or do-rags – outside our apartment. It just happened to three-digit degree weather at that time. *shrug* FYI, the tank tops are actually called “A-line shirts” by Fruit of the Loom and Hanes, just so none of you actually go into a store looking for a “wifebeater.”