Hey, Who You Calling Slut?

THE TWO SMALL-town girls exchanged little but "hi" in their years at Shawneetown High School. Now Kimberly Bryson (class of '81) is complaining in Illinois Supreme Court that Lucy Logsdon has called her a "slut" -in Seventeen magazine, no less. No one thinks the S word is what you'd call a compliment, but in '90s America, is it downright defamatory"

The noun in question turned up five years ago in Logsdon's first shed short story, which described a high-school brawl with a "platinum-blond, black-polyester-topped shriek" named, strangely enough, Bryson. "I remembered what a slut she was," Logsdon wrote, "and forgot the sorriness I'd been holding onto for her." The nonfictional Bryson is suing for defamation claiming everybody in Shawneetown (population: 1,700) thought the character was her. Baby-sitting jobs, she claims, disappeared as a result. Her suit (claiming more than $15,000 in damages) puts the definition of "slut" on the stand. Bryson's attorney says everyone knows "slut" means a promiscuous girl. And besides, why choose the name Bryson? Logsdon's attorney Michael Drone says, "It rhymes with Tyson," boxing's bully. He insists "slut" in this story means "a bold, brazen girl, a saucy girl." Now the judges will decide if using the S word is too low a blow.

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