The impetus for my blatant appeal to your kindness comes from trying to write about you accurately and respectfully. I am talking about the difficulties that come when I use almost any term that might describe you! Let me illustrate…
If I refer to you as a geezer, graybeard or codger, I am talking only about guys like my Great-uncle Harry, who shaved haphazardly, scared us kids with his false teeth, and told phantasmagoric stories about Bug Scuffle, Texas. (An inclusivity problem also arises: There are no women geezers….)
If I use adjectives reminiscent of precious metals—as in silver, gold or molybdenum—I imply that you live a gilded life and lust after filthy lucre. (An insult?)
Let’s say I called you a senior. This suggests that you’re coming to the end of your usefulness, a good reason to shuffle you out of the way so that juniors can take your place!
I used to like “elder”, but then I realized that not all of you are church volunteers, Mormon Church executives or revered members of primitive tribes that lack other ways to describe worthy ancestors. Not you, right?
Patients, guests or clients suggest transactional relationships—implicitly naming you as the lesser partner in these dealings. Not very respectful!
My point here—besides wanting you to feel sorry for me? At this stage in life, you might just have matured to the place where no one can corral or tame you with any descriptive title! Pretty cool, hmmm?
Still, this is a difficult thing for us writers. That’s why I appreciate your understanding how, in these blogs, I will use generic or obscure terms like older adult, older person or pantaloon to describe you. Please forgive me.
And whatever you do, PLEASE DO NOT SHOW ME YOUR FALSE TEETH!
(To subscribe, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three parallel lines. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)