At the risk of sounding antediluvian, the playground protocol from the era I grew up in seemed a whole lot simpler than it is today. When confronted with taunting and name-calling, a girl like me would first initiate the “sticks and stones” defense.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
If that pithy declaration didn’t stop my tormentor dead in her tracks, then the war of words escalated. At recess, I’d gather my best girlfriends around me to chant the “sticks and stones” statement over and over again until our sing-songy mantra lulled my nemesis into the non-aggressor fold, or more often than not, sent her running for the swings to get away from all the mind-numbing monotony.
When that brilliant tactic failed to work, I had one more move up my sleeve–to kick my tormentor soundly in the shin while yelling, “You’re a fat ugly doo-doo head.” Problem solved. Of course, adults of that era had their own variations on the playground protocol. They argued with their pugnacious neighbors over the back fence, dropped paper bags filled with dog doo on their foe’s front porch, lit it on fire, rang the doorbell and ran (well, maybe that was just my family), and occasionally the feuding parties resorted to punching each other in the nose. Rinse and repeat.
In today’s more enlightened world, my childhood “shock and awe” move and its nose-punching counterpart are illegal, and even worse, politically incorrect. While I still appreciate the simplicity of the “sticks and stones” problem-solving paradigm, I prefer to think I’ve evolved with the times. Today, bullies are dealt with through zero tolerance policies, the arduous criminal justice system and lengthy civil lawsuits. (We’ve got to keep my friends, the lawyers, busy.) Name-calling is strictly forbidden, except during an election cycle. The list of words our society has dubbed “not fit to think, speak or print” is growing by the day.
Because those of us who have waded into the murky waters we reluctantly call Aging stand, lean, sit and lie among the most maligned people of all time, I think it’s high time the list of words and phrases to be banned in this Enlightened Age should include those used to denigrate us, the year-of-birth challenged. Let’s start with “old fogey.” That’s the first one to scratch from the lexicon. Here’s a partial list of other references to Those of a Certain Age that need to be eradicated from the common vernacular: Hag, crone, frump, gramps, relic, fossil, antique, geezer, gaffer, duffer, codger, old fart, gray beard (which is particularly insulting when applied to one’s grandmother), battle ax, dodderer, curmudgeon, stick-in-the-mud, fuddy-duddy and antediluvian. That’s right…a partial list.
Even though I personally think that “old coot” has a certain je ne sais quoi, I’m willing to concede that it also needs to go. Personally, I’m not fond of “senior citizens,” which replaced “old folks” a couple generations ago. Unfortunately, the phrase “senior citizens” has been inextricably linked to a third word, “discount,” making it untouchable. Just try to get rid of the senior citizens discount and I think we’ll see the 42 million geezer, gaffers and duffers of this great nation revert to their shin-kicking, nose-punching, fire-setting roots.
It’s a complicated world we live in today. Treading the murky waters of aging while trying to figure out all the new politically correct rules of our evolving society can be challenging. I encourage my brethren to stick to the protocol: Eat right, exercise, learn something new, help others, be nice, and absolutely no name-calling. The next time someone calls you an old fogey, a swift kick in the shin just might solve the problem. Then get a bigger dog…just in case.
Copyright © 2019 by Patra Taylor
Here’s more senior humor from one of the Charleston Mercury columnists, Patra Taylor.
Get Your Word’s Worth
Antediluvian [an-tee-di-loo-vee-uh n] comes from the Latin, ante- meaning before, and diluvi(um) meaning deluge or flood.
- of or belonging to the period before the biblical Flood.
- very old, old-fashioned, or out of date; antiquated; primitive; antediluvian ideas.
- a person who lived before the Flood.
- a very old or old-fashioned person or thing.
Synonymous with hag, coot, crone, frump, gramps, relic, fossil, antique, geezer, gaffer, duffer, codger, old fart, gray beard, blue hair, battle ax, dodderer, curmudgeon, stick-in-the-mud, and fuddy-duddy. A person from the era when dinosaurs roamed the earth.