A few months ago, I suggested to DD that she consult with her teacher about certain career choices. “After all, your teacher is both old and wise,” I wrote.
I was swiftly corrected. “We don’t say old anymore. It’s not okay.”
Turns out teacher (and yours truly) are now properly called chronologically blessed.
I am mulling over whether to adjust, as I always have before. I have a long history with such adjustments.
I hope I’m not too chronologically blessed for that.
It started with the (now ancient) advent of Ms. I was a wee-one leaning English as a second language in Israel. Our English teacher was a delightful orthodox woman from South Africa. She informed us that in her English class the new “Ms.” doesn’t exist. “It’s neither here nor there, and proper English has Miss and Mrs.”
No wonder I came to the U.S.A. ill prepared. But I adjusted.
Then came the change from black to African American. I always try to call people what they want to be called, so despite the added length and relative unwieldiness, I adjusted. Some African Americans have informed me recently it’s back to black. I’m adjusting. I’m down with whatever you want because I respect you by either, and I accept this is a fluid matter.
Then came the ban on the word cripple. I’ve adjusted to disabled, and recently to differently-abled.
Retarded shifted to delayed, though they are almost synonymous. The new delayed holds the promise of eventual parity, and I doubt this is factual. But I’m game. I’ve adjusted.
Then came the non-binary pronouns. They are much harder, because my learned English grammar and the ghost of my former teacher from way back keep waving the red pen and striking they/them out when referencing a single individual. But I try.
But now, in my chronologically blessed dotage, I’m beginning to tire. I only ask the language police to respect my age and sense of propriety half as much as I try to respect theirs. Old to them is anyone over forty, and it’s a good olde (sic) word that deserves respect it has earned over five hundred years.