Round yon virgin, mother and child…

Whenever the Christmas season begins and we reflect reverently on the virgin mother and her son, my mind always takes an unfortunate turn down memory lane to a personal “coming of age”, the memory of which always flushes my cheeks.

When I was about twelve years old, my family moved from Texas to a completely new and foreign part of the country- the East Coast- to a suburb of Hartford, Connecticut called Simsbury. As luck would have it, those yankee children were a bit more precocious than my laid-back Texan peers had been, but in a tragic way. One of the first questions the local boys asked me upon enrolling in 6th Grade at Latimer Lane Elementary School went something like this: “Are you a virgin?!?”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had certainly heard the term “virgin” before, but I suppose I had never known the exact meaning. So, being the smart, enterprising kid that I was, I quickly cobbled together a definition in my mind.

“Virgin,” thought I, “where have I heard that word before?” After a moment, the light went on and I knew what the word meant. My newly illuminated stream of thought continued, “the word ‘Virgin’ is in the song Silent Night, referring to Mary! And what is special about Mary? Of course! She was pregnant!”

“BINGO!” I thought. There was the answer, of course, right in my brilliant early adolescent mind. “A VIRGIN IS A PREGNANT WOMAN, LIKE MARY!”

Suavely self-assured in my superb logical reasoning skills, I was now equipped to field every premature inquiry about my virginity. I answered each with a firm, confident “NO! Of course not! Are you?!?,” giggling as I imagined the silliness of asking whether I was a pregnant woman.

I wonder how long it took them to fiigure out I had no idea what I was saying. Ah, well, at least I was blissfully ignorant myself… Oh, in case anyone was wondering, the definition of “virgin” can be found here. (Oh, Wikipedia! Where were you when I needed you most??)

4 Responses to Round yon virgin, mother and child…

  1. Kristine says:

    Jordan–hilarious! I think I was at least 9 or 10 before I saw the song written down and realized it wasn’t “Round John’s Version”–I’m not quite sure what I thought that meant. Probably just chalked it up to whatever grown-up opacity had produced “Teach me all that I’m a stew…”

  2. john f. says:

    Kristine, perhaps “Round John’s Version” is the source of all the “shalmeno’s” from “Love One Another” (“by this shalmeno”) that no primary kid understands.

    Jordan, ironically, you might have made some of your erstwhile teasers self-concious with such a confident answer. Not only did you say “of course” you weren’t a virgin, probably with a voice of incredulity, but you also laughed at them when asking “why, are you?” Because you were confident that virgin meant “pregnant lady” your laughter probably had an air of authority.

    Latimer Lane elementary was an interesting place. I remember vividly my fifth grade teacher giving us an “object lesson” by holding a girl upside down in front of the class and making her eat a chocolate bar.

  3. Jordan F. says:

    John- you would think that I would have made them self-conscious. But I think they quickly figured out I did not know what they were talking about when they asked the next question.

    The next question always went like this: “Who was it that made you lose your virginity?” Huh?!? Who made me lose my “pregnant woman-ness?” That question made no sense to me and my blank stare to that question must have clued them in…

  4. Still, to this day, I laugh at myself for thinking a “shalmeno” was a type of token or behavior. Just today I stumbled on a Wikipedia entry that talks about these kinds of misheard lyrics. They even have a name for it! It’s called a mondegreen. You might be interested in reading the article. I realize I’m making this comment a couple of years after you wrote the entry, but it seems you still maintain the blog so there’s no hurt in leaving a comment on a two-year-old post.

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