Today is Friday, November 28, 2014

Stretch Your Mind and Use Your Manners

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By ANNE DONNELL What do you think about all this “politically correct” business we hear about nowadays? Is it just more empty language, disguising lack of real concern? Is it really based on respect? It certainly seems to get more attention than urging people to be courteous in other ways.                          -Old Fogey                     Oh, the joys of a quiet evening at home when you know someone out there calls you elderly; at the very least you suspect your involvement in a crime (surely as victim, not perpetrator – surely) will solicit the description elderly for use in the crime report, the six o’clock news, the local newspaper (they’re apt to use your exact age, also, and maybe something really, really embarrassing like your weight or implications that your weight isn’t what it should be – maybe something like, “Despite the obvious strength of the young attackers, the elderly, 81 in a few years, but hefty Mrs. Swinga Punch...”)

Well, enough of scare tactics. The other evening we were watching a college gymnastic match and began picturing what it might take for us to be participating, like needing one of those lifts hospitals and nursing homes use to lift people from beds to wheelchairs and back (wheeeee!). We’d need the lift for the floor exercises. And imagine – walking and leaping on a 4-inch wide parallel bar that’s off the floor. What sadistic emperor of ancient Rome thought of that for Coliseum fun? I think the gymnastic best I could do would be (1) sit on the floor and raise my arms up to touch the bottom of the parallel bars – maybe, it would be a real stretch; (2) slowly walk by it muttering, maybe kick one of its braces provided I’m wearing those stout orthopedic shoes with chain mail in the toe. 

Speaking of stretch, I’d better not try to put on one of those little stretch outfits that don’t even cover the gymnasts; I could strain some critical muscles like the ones I breathe with. I’ll have to say, though, when the gymnasts, wear them, spinning, flopping, twirling through the air, the cute metallic swirls all over the stretchy stuff make them look like giant cinnamon rolls. 

HEY, STRETCH OUT! ONLINE DEPARTMENT IN LINE WITH WHAT WE’VE BEEN DISCUSSING: “Perks of reaching 50, or being over 60 and heading towards 70 or beyond!” (Thanks, M. G.) • Kidnappers are not very interested in you. • In a hostage situation, you are likely to be released first. • No one expects you to run -- anywhere. • People call at 9 PM and ask, “Did I wake you?” • People no longer view you as a hypochondriac. • There is nothing left to learn the hard way. • Things you buy now won't wear out. • You can eat supper at 4 PM. No one’s in the restaurant then, either, so you get your choice of tables. • If you marry your honeymoon is spent fumbling around – looking for your glasses. • You get into heated arguments about pension plans. • You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge. • You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room. • You sing along with elevator music. • Your eyes won't get much worse. In fact, once you’re used to floaters your eyes, after cataract surgery, are better. Don’t look in the mirror, though, because now you can see your wrinkles and, women, all that extra blusher. • Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off. • Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service. • Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either. • Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size. Word Spy, The Word Lover’s Guide to Modern Culture by Paul McFedries notes that “political correctness” dates back to 1948. He says movements of the 1960s and 70s heated it up to goad people into a warranted sensitivity to various cause. However, he adds, “But political correctness has also been used as a metaphorical sword, cutting down to size those who appear to be mindlessly conforming to liberal orthodoxy...Today politically correct is used as a grievous insult that implies the person is a humorless, self- righteous slave to the liberal party line…Whether it’s used as a goad or a sword, political correctness is very much a linguistic phenomenon, since much of what we call political correctness is really speech correctness [McFedries’s emphasis]… from a language point of view, it requires that each of us practice what one writer called ‘vocabulary management.’  It means giving up politically incorrect [McFedries’s emphasis] phrases such as Mexican standoff, Indian giver, go Dutch…”

All very interesting and harking to the vast insensitivity we’ve papered over our culture wide morass of immorality, but I think QP of T (Question Person of Today) has the point here. So much whining about political correctness can be translated, “You owe me,” hardy the stuff of courtesy which is, “You before me.” As a courteous person I must speak respectfully to you and about you, and I must act respectfully toward you. Oh, heck.

THIS JUST IN: (Thanks, J.A.) A six year old goes to the hospital with her grandmother to visit her grandfather. When they get to the hospital, she runs ahead and bursts into her grandpa's room. "Grandpa, Grandpa," she says excitedly, "as soon as Grandma comes into the room, make a noise like a frog!" "What?" said her grandpa. "Make a noise like a frog - because Grandma said that as soon as you croak, we're all going to Disney Land!"

BW (Bigtime Word) goluptious [other spellings accepted which should go a long way with some of you who vary spellings right and left] – slang for delicious, delightful, splendid. Fallen by the wayside, though, but certainly apt when eating some good lasagna on West Main.

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