Oh, To Be Cute!

The other day I heard a woman telling her friend about a 95-year old customer. She said that he loved to dance every week. “That’s so cute,” her friend responded. I immediately smiled as I conjured up the image of this aged gentle of gentlemen rockin’ it on the floor with his cane and perhaps walker. Yet, what really made me smile was not just the image but the word cute used to describe him.

I began to think how the definition of this word changes depending on the circumstances. My dimply chubby thighs were cute when I was ten months old, but they certainly aren’t cute now.

My little boy at two shouted a profanity at just the right moment in his frustration. I immediately said the appropriate remark, “We don’t say that word. Why not use “XYZ#*W” instead.” I smiled to myself thinking that it was so cute that he knew to use the word in just the right place for just the right reason. Today, my little boy is all grown up, a man, and it’s not so cute when he uses this same word.

Once a friend (now an ex-friend and not because of her use of the word) came over to see our new house decades ago, and her first words were, “It’s so cute.” My ears perked up and I pondered her definition. Knowing where she lived, I determined that her meaning was as follows: A tiny, itty, bitty house, which is cottage-like and decorated with all the sweet little doll-like amenities-and definitely too small for her. Of course, I could have given her the benefit of the doubt, but because I learned of her affected nature and phoniness, I still believe my definition was correct.

I used to be a cute little girl with a pixie haircut framing my round little face. No one uses this same word for an older woman. I was even called cute in my 30s and perhaps in 40s, but somehow, this word disappeared from any description of my being unless the word refers to my shoes. But even with my shoes, I have had to face the fact that while they are cute in a size 6, the same boots on my large feet, size 8 1/2, aren’t quite as cute.

I-pads are now cute, and their cases are even cuter, but not our 8-year old PC in the kitchen, which has become a dinosaur; and rarely do we use the word cute to describe something prehistoric. The IPhone is cute, too, especially the new ones with different colors and sizes. I suddenly realize, though, it’s not cute to have a landline. It’s just old-fashioned.

Why is it that my old, torn up jeans aren’t so cute, yet the ones for $200 with the same types of rips are cute?

A baby that is screaming and howling certainly isn’t so cute, yet the same little one, sound asleep in her mother’s arms is absolutely quite cute. My grandchildren are cute–no discussion!

Food isn’t generally cute. A cute hamburger is just over-priced. I have yet to see a cute egg. Garnish can be cute (a carrot cut into a figure of a flower).

Cute completely depends on the circumstances:


Diamonds might be cute when they are small, but do we want cute diamonds or larger ones?

My husband burping once or twice-cute. Repeatedly? Not so cute.

Dogs, cats, and bunnies– for sure! Lizards and snakes? Sorry, not too much.
Lady Bugs? Absolutely! Spiders? Ugh!

Generally clothing, depending on the size (unfortunately) and who is wearing it.

Televisions are only cute if they are tiny and can fit into our pockets.

A cute television in my den is too small to comfortably watch.

Angels are beyond cute-they are adorable, yet when does cute become ‘adorable’?

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