I was in a group of people who were having a meeting that was running amok. I turned to a friend sitting next to me and asked, “Who’s in charge of this nuthouse anyway?”
“Sssh! You want somebody to hear you? You can’t use that word anymore. It’s not polite.”
“What word? What are you talking about?” I asked with my best perplexed look.
“Nuthouse. People don’t use that term anymore. You might as well say loony bin. Someone might be offended.”
Someone was offended — me for these people wasting my time. I started to tell her that loony bin would have been my next choice, but decided to forego that information. Figures, you can even call a nut a nut anymore. I couldn’t begin to count how many times in my life I’ve been called a nut. Since most people I know like nuts, I assumed they were complimenting me. I don’t know what those Planters people are going to do.
But trying to be respectful to my friend because I had my suspicions that she might actually have been an inmate before, I asked, “Well, what would you call such a place as this?” I asked.
“I’d call it Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving,” she said and we both laughed. Talk about a loony bin.
I gave up on anyone getting anything done at the meeting, and instead I started thinking about how people are going to communicate in the future if we keep banning every word that might offend someone else. After all, there’s a lot of words that offend me, and no one seems to care about that.
For instance, I’m offended by the word “sale” when a store gets me to travel across town only to find they’ve lowered the price only a few cents, or even worse they ordered so few that it’s already gone. I feel insulted that people have wasted my time and have deceived me. That’s definitely offensive to me.
Perhaps someone should put together a dictionary of all these new offensive terms so I can keep them straight. There could be a pocket-size edition like the translation books you get when you visit another country. Then when I have those thoughts and start to blurt out a word I would have used ten years ago, I can stop and politely say, “Pardon me while I check my book.” Yeah, it would slow the conversation down, but a little less chatter in this world might help people get along better anyway.