According to Meriam Webster the word weasel, as a noun, has three definions:
1: any of various small slender active carnivorous mammals (genus Mustela of the family Mustelidae, the weasel family) that are able to prey on animals (as rabbits) larger than themselves, are mostly brown with white or yellowish underparts, and in northern forms turn white in winter — compare ermine
2: a light self-propelled tracked vehicle built either for traveling over snow, ice, or sand or as an amphibious vehicle
3: a sneaky, untrustworthy, or insincere person
In the U.S. when we hear the word weasel we often think of #3, a sneaky,untrostworhty, or insincere person. That was not what he-weasel intended when he called me a weasel. He meant that I was clever, resourceful, smart, fearless, and able to confront and conquer things that were bigger than me. He also meant that I was cute, which is more difficult to claim than the other qaulities he conferred by calling me his little weasel.
Wildlife Educator and technician, Christine W. Cold in her article, “You little Weasel: Maligned and Misunderstood, Weasels Deserve a Closer Look” admits that weasels have an image problem. “We are quick to condemn them as corrupt, greedy little villains who sneak around and kill with deadly efficiency for no reason whatsoever. We’ve historically viewed weasels as pests, varmints or scraps of fur only suitable for a decorative trim on collar or cuff. It’s a wonder that weasels have endured such a hostile world. In fact, weasels are marvelously successful. They persist by being alert, inquisitive, tenacious and most importantly, small.”
It wasn’t until I saw the film Amélie that I discovered that I was not the only one to be called une Belette.
Concierge: Non, restez là, restez là ! Vous avez bien 5
minutes. Tiens, là, il était à la caserne. “Mado, cherie…” C’est
moi, je m’appelle Madeleine. “Je ne dors plus, je ne mange plus. Je
vis avec la certitude d’avoir laissé ma seule raison de vivre à
Paris. Je ne la retrouverai que vendredi en quinze en voyant
apparaître ma belette adorée sur le quai de la gare dans sa robe bleue
à bretelles.” Entre parenthèses, “celle que tu trouves trop
transparente.” …Vous étiez écrite des lettres comme ça,
Amélie: Non. Je suis la belette de personne.
According to a post on Wordreference.com: “belette” or “fouine”, “(are) animals that are pretty, clever, but so annoying for farmers and so difficult to trap.” The post goes on to explain that the Frenh use the word “belette” to describe an attractive young girl, as beautiful and very hard to catch. The poster argues that when Amelie says she is nobodys little weasel, “she means she’s not in love affair with some one nor belong to any male, then her heart is free.”
Well, I am someone’s little weasel and after seeing Amelie, I began to embrace the nickname my beloved had given me. This was also the time when I conspired to create the anti-defimation of weasel league. Everytime I heard a politician or a corrupt businessman being called a weasel it hurt me all the way from the tipped of my whiskered nose down to my furry tale.
I never did much about trying to change the meaning weasel to its more positive associations until I started my blog, La Belette Rouge. It is my hope that through the blog I might change a few peoples minds–and that you, my dear readers, will associate the weasel with ability to weasel out which is the best mascara on the market. I hope, through my blog, to give the weasel a much needed makevover.
My pal, Pamela, at Frogblog wrote about the Big Word Project, in her post “Fun with Words.” And, I quote Pamela about The Big Word Project: ” It’s the brainchild of Paddy and Lee, two grad students in multidisciplinary design from Northern Ireland…Their project allows you to pick an English word and link it to your website or blog. Then, whenever anyone clicks a word on the site, they’re taken to your site. Forever.”
This was my chance. For one dollar a letter I could own the word “Weasel” and forever more when anyone clicked on “weasel” it would take the clicker to La Belette Rouge. I did this not out of any hubris–but as a gift to the much maligned Mustelidae in the hopes of in some small way making a dent in our serious PR problem. I also bought the word “chic” as in my mind chic and weasel go together like salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly, or, more appropriately, champagne and escargot. It is my hope that someday, somewhere, when someone has made a particularly wise and cleaver choice they will choose to describe their behavior as weasily. Or, that when someone clings tight to their dreams and tirelessly and tenaciously works to make those dreams a reality, a kind onlooker will say of them, “she is such a little weasel.” Then I will know that my $6 investment at The Big Word Project was all worthwhile.
p.s. The beautiful drawing of La Belette Rouge was done by the witty and incredibly talented blogger, Baduade.