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Double entendre(c)

June 9, 2019
last modified: June 11, 2019

It's been years already that I read here about "gas chambers". I don't say anything, all these years-I think: okay, people write it without second thoughts, they don't mean any malice, they don't make connection, they don't have same mental imagery as i do. It's fine.

But one of the latest threads hit me especially hard because some start saying there how funny and clever this term is, how accurately coined.

So I feel complelled to say-not for myself, but in memory of those, who went with black smoke into the skies, leaving behind them heaps of clothes, and glasses, and walking canes, and rag dolls, and hair that was cut off their heads to be reused-the hair lost its color already, you know? many years passed by, and only red hair still can be somehow still distinguished in these huge heap of human hair. Can still read as very faint red..

I feel complelled to say, like it's on me to say it, because if not me-then who, and if not now, then when?(c) -this term, it's not funny. It's as far from being funny as can be. And frankly, it's not clever either.

For clever people, they know, that one day, their jokes might be on them, but literally on them, weighing heavily upon them, crushing their hearts and bones and lungs, not letting them breathe.

Clever people realize that next to some times and circumstances, even being on autopsy table(that also was used as a comparision to other house feature, and got its share of laughter) can be, in a very weird and very horrid way, a good thing-it means after all you're still seen, you're still considered for who you were-a human. A person. Not some insect, some pest to be exterminated on this huge industrial level...

Somebody still gives a damn about your humanity..

And as strange and awful as it is-it's not a given.

So. Use the term if you so wish, I'm not here to teach you how to talk. just maybe don't ..don't come across as if you revel in how funny and clever and double entendre it is. You are visionaries after all.

Extend your imagination a bit more-and maybe you won't laugh..at least you won't laugh that loud.

It was incredibly hard and painful for me to write this post. If I felt I had a bit of an inner choice-I wouldn't write it.

But it feels like it is my only choice because..because I can't breathe. I had to write it. I had to.

And if you made it this far-thank you for reading it.

Comments (45)

  • seagrass_gw

    You are a born writer. I know some of your past. You share a lot of yourself - you're artsy, thoughtful and passionate. I always absorb your posts here. Don't know your age. I'm surprisingly 67. Have a lot of loss, grief and physical pain in my life but I repress it. Not the healthy thing to do. Just get it out there like you did.

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  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Bless you, aprilneverends. I hear you and appreciate you.

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  • DLM2000-GW

    Well what do you know - your post showed up here, april - wonder if it's finally in the other forums, too.

    For those just reading this here, april posted this a few days ago and it was pulled so she posted it incognito at the end of her aprilfinds thread.

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  • maddielee

    I never saw the posts you are referencing.

    Always remember there are people who sometimes write offensive stuff. It’s usually done because they are not educated enough to realize what they say is offensive.

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  • localeater

    April, Thank you for posting this. I have always been bothered by people using this expression so flippantly, but turned a blind eye and blamed myself for being sensitive.

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  • blfenton

    I'm not sure what you're referring to but I haven't heard that term in a funny or clever way.

    Using the term "gas chamber" in a funny way is never appropriate because of its significant historic meaning.

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  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

    I am so glad this post appeared, or re-appeared. Please come back.

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  • LynnNM

    Darling April, I hear your anguish and your hurt. My own heart hurts for you. Any mention of “gas chambers” in anything but an angry/reverential way in remembrance of the Jews who were murdered during WW2 hurts me, as well as it should others.

    My father’s family came from Germany. The eldest brother inherited the family lands, while the two younger brothers (one my great-great grandfather) emigrated to the United States. Our family that stayed in Germany, devout Catholics, were part of the underground movement, hiding and getting Jews out of Germany to safety. They eventually were caught and imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp. They were there for well over a year before being freed by U.S. troops. The daughter, 14 at the time of imprisonment, her hair had turned completely white by the time they were liberated, from the horrors she witnessed. It was nothing, though, in comparison to what so, so many Jews went through!

    My own dear daughter-in-law, is Jewish, and has grown up with horror stories of her own relatives who perished under that beast, Hitler, during the war. My heart, and I know, so many of us, feel your anger, your frustration at the ill-used comparisons, and your hurt. I am so sorry for how you’re feeling right now!

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  • Oakley

    Can someone explain the context "gas chambers" is used that's offensive? I only know it as one thing, but never in pop culture language.

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  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

    Some people are calling water closets that on threads about bathrooms.

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  • lizbeth-gardener

    Thank you for speaking out, April.

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  • aprilneverends

    Guys I've just saw the thread is up..i don't know why (as I didn't know why it was pulled either)..I really really appreciate..well everything-you reading it, you understanding what moved me so strongly, and yes it was a certain trigger for that that sent me over the edge-I didn't say anything for years before....your ability to share..Lynn yes..it is horror, it was for so so so many..fifty million lives lost in that war I think..the rest who survivived-I heard personally and read some of their stories..all of it is horror. I'm not,,not great at expressing myself right now..not very coherent, because I didn't expect it all, kinda given up..i'll gather myself, at some point. Maybe I'll do better with words.

    You're very dear to me.

    Thank you

    (I did watch "Chernobyl". before all that happenning. Thank you for telling me to watch it. Very hard, but yes, had to be watched. That in some way played its role too. How? \I don't know, I fail to explain myself well right now)

  • leela4

    Why in the world would this have been pulled in the first place?

    Thanks for writing this april. Your eloquence is a gift.

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  • morz8

    Dear, dear April. Thank you for the timely reminder. I think most of us strive to be sensitive and sometimes we fail. I'm so sorry anything to do with remodeling and decorating caused you pain. I have a trigger too, something people will sometimes say very casually. Speaking up feels too personal, exposing a part of me I don't share often. I'm glad you spoke up. (((hugs)))

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  • nutsaboutplants

    April, so glad to see you (and the post) back again. I admire your quiet conviction and your facility of expression. You’re a gift. hugs.

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  • tartanmeup

    I'm glad this post is up. I've seen the term used quite a few times but didn't see it, you know? Thank you for showing me properly, April. As usual, your eloquence touched me.

    People's habits can change with awareness. Perhaps we should propose a new play on words to describe a W.C. (enclosed toilet). My suggestion borrows from fiction rather than reality: chamber of smelly secrets.

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  • OutsidePlaying

    Thank you for writing this April. I didn’t see the other posts. I am glad you wrote so eloquently about how insensitive it was to use the reference.

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  • Yayagal

    I love that you posted here and let us know that you are upset by the stupid idiotic use of that phrase when they all know exactly what it really means and the horror attached to it. I hear your outrage, I feel the outrage too along with many many more here. My eyes welled up just reading the words you wrote from the bottom of your heart. I applaud you for speaking out. Thank you.

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  • straitlover

    I've never seen that kind of use of the phrase, but I agree w/ everything you said. I feel similar about the use of "drinking the kool-ade - have people forgotten where that came from and how many people died? Also, I recall seeing a blow-up slide at a carnival of the Titanic (yes it said Titanic on it, not a generic looking ship). How tacky, disrespectful, etc for that to be turned into a toy for people's amusement. :(

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  • allison0704

    (Seems my comment got lost in cyberspace.)

    I have not seen the post/thread but my heart hurts for the pain it has caused you. Some people just don’t think, and sadly not only in this case. Almost 40yrs ago I was in basic training for Army Reserve. Part of the training at Fort McClellan included going into a concrete block gas chamber. At first we were given instructions. Once our gas masks were in place, the space filled with gas and we had to remove our mask and stay inside for the required amount of time. I can only imagine the horror that went through the minds of so many that lost their lives this way. Broke my heart then and now.

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  • patriceny

    That term is used very flippantly on the Building a Home forum. It raised my eyebrows the first few times I saw it.

    I think part of the problem is that most of us who post here are from the US, and so most of us never have witnessed first-hand the kinds of things our fellow humans from other places have seen or been subject to.

    As a young person I was able to visit Dachau, and it changed me. Just seeing the remnants first hand, with my own eyes, made what were formerly abstract or "academic" discussions a very real and horrifying thing.

    April, you write with an honesty and a clarity that is something special. If you can, I would love to see you post this on Building a Home. I'm not sure what kind of reception it will get, but I think your message is very important and needs to be seen.

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  • Delilah66

    “Some people are calling water closets that on threads about bathrooms.”

    WHAT? That is atrocious and callous. I’m wondering whether anyone has ever flagged such posts? I’m almost never on the design side and never on bathroom discussions, but maybe I should be. Is there a way to involve Emily proactively to alert her to the subject? Not sure a flag review would be fully understood without context.

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  • patriceny

    I hang out mostly on the Building a Home forum, which is where I see the term used all the time.....

    I think the people who are using it are not intending to be hurtful. Some of them likely think it's "just" a clever play on words.

    The small separate bathroom water closets are quite a hot topic on that forum. Some of the resident architects despise them, and others (mostly potential home owners) think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. The topic itself has generated some spirited debates in the past. But no one - to my knowledge - has ever asked anyone to think about the term du jour that they're using there to describe them.

    April has a way of expressing herself - without malice, without making people feel badly - that I think she can raise awareness. But it's a persnickety group too (sadly, it's becoming a pervasive state around our old GW forums!) so if April doesn't feel she can handle any potential snarkiness in response, I totally understand.

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  • tartanmeup

    patriceny, all that's needed really is a link to this thread.

    It takes a lot of courage to speak up about such a thing. I admire April tremendously for doing so.

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  • DLM2000-GW

    all that's needed really is a link to this thread.

    yeah, but then we've invited the vitriol from there to our little corner. I've been hanging out on the building forum for years but find myself commenting less and less. It can be a viper pit.

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  • pb32

    Agreed dlm2000. April herself needs to decide if she wants to do that.

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  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

    For me, april bringing this up here means that I now have a responsibility to say something the next time those words are used on a thread I am on. I don't think april has any more to do with this than what she has already so generously done.

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  • tartanmeup

    I didn't realize that, DLM2000. Don't need to invite any vipers. I agree with Rita. I will speak up if I come across it in a thread in any forum.

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  • DLM2000-GW

    I'm with you Rita and tartan. Going forward this rests with those of us who care to call it out. And shane on me for not doing it sooner. It's not as if I wasn't inwardly recoiling with every reading. I'm Jewish, 2nd generation Russian/Hungarian. This hits home.

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  • aprilneverends

    As usual you're very kind...I didn't expect to get comments at all, much less so ..I'm at loss of words.

    I had a hard night's day(c)-I'm just back after some long long thing I had to do in LA..and it's four hours traffic..in short not eloquent not even my level of broken-English-eloquency

    so meanwhile I'll just try to answer very practical things, pertaining to threads and forums and posting and all. And it will be haphazard, so I'm sorry about that in advance.

    I did indeed wish to post it in "Building a Home" forum, very much so-I love it, overall, there are many people i highly respect there, and think they're kind and hugely talented and have a great sense of humor-and they do use the term, some of them.

    I had only three forums to pick though. I chose "Bathrooms" for obvious reasons, "Home Decorating Conversations"-because it's indeed a bit of off topic, and it's also probably most personal place to me of them all..and "Kitchens", because the comments that finally pushed me to the edge, after 3 and a half years here,appeared in a "Kitchens" thread

    I decided not to say anything in the thread itself(which was my knee-jerk reaction) because it'd just make a mess in that tread, and most people won't see it. and I did wanted people to see it.

    Actually I tried to talk myself into not saying anything at all-but that evening turned into night, night turned into morning-and nothing helped. As I said already in my thread-I had to write it because otherwise I'd despise myself. It was my son's birthday by the way. so believe me I didn't want to upset myself, didn't want to upset others-but the more I stayed silent the more burning it became, it consumed me, and it was at the point where it turned to be more important, more heavy, than any other "upsetness", including my own.

    Again, as I said in my thread-I didn't seek to start wars, discussions, I didn't expect to get comments even. I wrote it because at that point, to me, it had to be written. And I felt-it had to be seen.

    I'd withstand snark or whatever..I know everything we say, everything we write, has consequences. the point is-one should be able to stand behind his words. we call in in Russian slang-"отвечать за базар". I'd translate it for you better, but my mental capacity is not there yet right now.

    I usually am. I stand behind what I say. If I can't then I failed, and I'll do everything to remedy it somehow.

    What I wouldn't do, in this case, if the thread wasn't pulled-I wouldn't go into lengthy explanations. Gets very tiring..and really, after some time, if people still don't get what you're trying to say about certain things-then well, there's nothing I can do about it anymore. in terms of talking.

    I would probably queitly thank everyone if they'd comment at all-and, if asked something very direct, I'd answer.

    So, Say I decide to repost this thread. It was pulled from every forum I put it on. it reappeared(for mysterious reasons) only on this forum

    You think it will stay on "Building a Home"?

    no, it'll get pulled.

    It's a heavy subject, that yes, has a potential to make people upset. I think: good. I hate being upset myself, I'm just like everybody else-but you know, some things, they should make us upset. Or at least consider, see, think of something a bit differently.

    I can't link to the thread because it means I need to go and look at it again, and/or cite certain comments. i don't want to see them again-I remember them well enough.

    I don't want to twist anyone's words either, and without citation, I might, even with my great memory-and it'll also feel I'm talking behind those people backs.

    If the thread stayed-it wouldn't be behind their backs. But it didn't.

    and now it'll feel a bit I'm talking behind their backs-that's how things become when threads disappear.

    I can tell you the thread was in "Kitchens" and it was about something why so many expensive houses don't have high end kitchens, and it was a nice thread, fine and dandy-until somebody compared something (I guess stainless steel kitchen islands) to autopsy tables, and somebody else laughed and said it's a great term for these, and it has to be written in annals or something because it's as clever and funny as "gas chambers" one, and can she borrow and use it?

    (the response was that of course, and "gas chamber" was a new term to that person, but it's very "double-entendre:)"

    That "double entendre" thing with a smiley face was my last straw or how they call it

    because it suddenly landed on me-some of people who use the term, they realize, they know. As oppossed to what I thought before. They know what they're saying.

    But -maybe they don't see. Don't hear..

    (I don't want to think that they do see and hear-and plainly don't give a damn)

    I did feel it's on me -not to tell them how to talk, it's humiliating enough to even explain it to people who are clearly around your age or older even..but to try for them to see.

    well I guess, they didn't see it after all. And most likely, they won't.

    And others-they know without me.

    I can't educate grown up people. (unless they ask me about something specific, seeking my input, my perspective, unless they're genuiely interested)

    I can just say something that has to be said.

    Again, it's not personal between me and them whoever choose to use the term. it's between them and them.

    If this site decides to do something about it-it's the site's prerogative.

    That was long

    I really tried to make it short-and with a usual result.

    I really tried not to go into my own family stories, even though of course they pierce my brain. Not now.

    I had to answer though, as bad and incoherent as it came out-because you're here. And I'm so, so grateful.

  • LynnNM

    Reaching out, April, to wrap you in caring for what you’ve been though. With hugs to try and relieve some of your frustration, anger and hurt. And for appreciation for the guts it took to speak up . . . and by doing so, helping to educate some who speak without thinking and understanding.

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  • nutsaboutplants

    April, thank you! You care deeply enough to say what needed to be said, yet you’re able to detach yourself from how others take it. Amazing clarity in owning what you own and letting go of the rest. I’m so glad you posted here.

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  • larecoltante Z6b NoVa

    Thank you, April.

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  • aprilneverends

    I wish I'd be able to detach myself:) I can't that well, actually.

    It's just that some times-you just have to say something, do something (or not to say something and not to do it), and live with the consequences

    Or else, that wouldn't be much of same you, anymore

    I'm a member in some Facebook group, but I don't go there.

    The admin there wrote to me at some point, that he'd love to see me participating

    I told him:

    -I'm afraid

    He said:

    -well, you for sure have nothing to be afraid of, everybody loves you!

    I didn't tell him I was afraid for them...:) 'cause knowing myself, at some, maybe very distant point, they'd become upset.

    I didn't want them to.

    Actually me even writing here this very draining post-it's a sign of big respect for the folks here

    If I think there's no use in talking, none at all-I won't talk. After certain level, it becomes very hard to communicate with some people..

    Of course it's much easier to own everything under circumstances where you're, say, not tortured, your family, not threatened..

    I won't bulge, when it's about somebody. Or something of extreme importance

    But everybody has their "room 101".

    I pray I never meet mine

    In one book-that does span over twentieth century, from the beginning of it, to the start of the WW2-one of the heroes says:

    "It's one thing to find yourself at God's mercy, and totally different thing -to get caught in man's hands"

  • patriceny

    You're an amazing human being April. I salute your integrity.

    I'm glad you shared this here with us and I'm even more glad I saw it.

    (ETA - I went back to Kitchens to see the post. Now that I've seen it, all I will say is consider the source. :-/

    Regardless your points still stand because I've seen the term used all too often myself too though.)

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  • Yayagal
    1. April, you have summed up and showed us to always speak out be it sex abuse, horrific torture, inappropriate judging etc. Thank you for your posts, you express yourself in a unique way that is concise and thought provoking. I have huge respect for you.

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  • aprilneverends

    Thank you very much. Everyone.

    my integrity is..eh, meh(c)) there's room for improvement.

    Still, I'm incredibly touched by your very kind words, and high opinion, as undeserved as it might feel, and by everything that happenned and was shared in this thread. It won't ever, ever leave me.

    PS dear patriceny, yes, I did consider the source. Of course I did. My impression is the source is perfectly capable of understanding the whatever I tried to convey.

  • Bunny

    I think the people who are using it are not intending to be hurtful. Some of them likely think it's "just" a clever play on words.

    Sounds like it's past time they were disabused of that notion.

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  • patriceny

    Agreed April. Some people torment on purpose and seem to thrive on being disruptive and snide.

    Some people you can have a dialogue with, some people will attempt to hear you but still not agree with you - and sadly, other people are beyond attempting to even talk to because they're only here to poke at people (as far as I can tell anyway).

    There are a tiny few who are consistently mean, but they fly under the radar because they're smooth about it.

    I am so grateful this little almost-hidden corner exists. It's the last refuge of the former GW. :(

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  • OutsidePlaying

    I agree with what Bunny said. To many people, a careless comment can sometimes have unintended consequences or hold an entirely different meaning for others, as you expressed so well, April. Perhaps pointing out another view of this term, you will not only educate but help others realize how important it is to think before they speak. Attempts at ‘Humor’ is generally the worst in terms of misuse of terms or phrases that can offend.

    Again I thank you for this discussion.

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  • jojoco

    Just horrible. I can't believe people are so callous these days. But then again, of course I can. I had no idea that that term was used so off-handedly. I actually looked for a reference and found someone on the kitchen forum asking for people to explain "Gas Chambers" to him/her. The poster mentioned it as an often derogatory comment and I thought, ok, this person gets how offensive the term is. But no, it was more of an "explain why you don't like a separated toilet." I am rarely speechless, but this one does it for me.

    People absolutely suck.

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  • cyn427 (z. 7, N. VA)

    April, please don't think you should "detach" yourself. Even those of us who did not see the horrors of the Holocaust first hand should have seen documentary film footage and photography that quite explicitly reveals the horrors. There is absolutely no excuse for not realizing that the term 'gas chamber' should never be applied to anything flippantly. If anyone has received such a poor education that he or she is unaware of the evils of the Nazi regime, then we here in the US had darn well better improve our educational curricula. Those of us whose fathers fought in Europe may be more sensitive and aware, but everyone needs to speak up when someone says or does something so egregiously ignorant. It infuriates me. Staying quiet only allows history to be forgotten and then it will eventually repeat itself.

    Thank you April and brava. Anger can be useful when expressed as eloquently as it was in your post.

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  • chispa

    I think it is mostly one person using that phrase. It shows up every now and then because that person is an active participant in the building forum. Others might have picked up on the phrase too.

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  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

    Half my parental lineage is Jewish, so I can certainly relate to how (perhaps inadvertently?) offensive that term would be in the context of joking about a modern day bathroom.

    I was confused at first, and appreciate the explanation that clarified things.

    Maybe they should just call them stink closets instead?

    Another thing I'm curious about is the "(c)" scattered throughout april's posts and in topic title. What does it mean, please?

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  • aprilneverends

    (c)-means a certain word or expression or sentence was cited by me. Quoted.

    Sometimes I name a source-a book or whatever, sometimes I don't. But that's how i let people know that not everything I write, i came up with myself.

    That's why the post is called "double entendre", btw, in the first place-it's a citation. It's a citation of one of the posters' words about the term, whichs appeared in the thread that eventually influenced me enough as to go and open this one. The "double-entendre" appeared with a smiley face next to it. I didn't include smiley face in my citation.

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