So…I walked into my living room and was minding my own business when I heard my wife laughing. She was watching a clip that Brandi Carlile posted about her family playing badminton. Brandi was laughing as her wife. She was using the term shuttlecock for what Brandi thought was a birdie. My wife weighed in on the debate because she believed the term birdie was correct as well, insisting that since Brandi’s wife Catherine is from the UK, that must be UK terminology. I argued that was not the case, or as least it wasn’t nearly forty years ago when I played badminton in high school. Weighing in, I stated, “She’s right; it is called a shuttlecock.”
I’m not sure why my sixteen-year-old self didn’t giggle at the name, or why after so many years as a lesbian, the name rolls off my tongue with a seriousness I attributed to the game so many years ago. I suppose it’s because, as a budding baby dyke (though I had no idea I was one at the time), I’d finally found a sport I was good at. After trying softball, basketball, track and field, and so many others that I failed at miserably, I glommed onto badminton, making the varsity team the very first year I played. Our coach was serious about the game, and I probably had a crush on her, so if she called it a shuttlecock without giggling, I’d do the same. My wife, on the other hand, is right there with Brandi, giggling away at seventy (well, not quite, she turns seventy in a few weeks). Now, after so many years and hearing others refer to it as a birdie, I still can’t shake the term. I guess old habits die hard. I researched which was the preferred terminology in the US and didn’t get a consistent answer. One site did say that Americans prefer the term, birdie, but I wonder if that is regional as well. And, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the perception has always been that the British are far more prim and proper than the Americans. Surely, that crude term for the male member is used in Britain. But, clearly, the UK uses the term shuttlecock. Maybe, the current revival of so-called “traditional values” are making Americans stuffier than our former stereotype. Yikes…I don’t want any part of that!
Here’s a quick history of badminton: The game originated in Siam, China nearly 2,000 years ago. It was brought to England in 1870 and played a little like tennis. After arriving in Canada, badminton came to America and has been popular since 1929. Since 1992, badminton has been an Olympic sport, with shuttlecock speeds reaching 100 m.p.h. Since the game came to the UK many years before America, it’s only fair that we use the UK-preferred term. I understand there was a bit of a debate at the Olympics in Greece. I suppose I understand it now. Because as I sit down and ponder the term, it does make me giggle. There will always be that small part of me that enjoys adolescent boy humor. I can only say that I’ve been missing out all these years. I could have been giggling along with the best of them.
I doubt this will make it into any of my books unless I write a sports-themed novel and make the main characters badminton stars. Nah…who would read that, it isn’t exactly a sexy sport! Speaking of sexy, there are definitely sexy, bad-ass women in my latest novel, Politics of Love which is book 2 in the San Diego Series – a page-turning, political romance thriller. Just click one of the links below to get the book! Audio coming soon…
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