I’m Not Talking!

May 16


“I’m Not Talking.”

This will come as a shock to those who know me, to say the least, and may raise the related question: Will you stop blogging too?

Hell, no.

I’ll blog away blithely (blithely blog away?) in order to clarify that initial comment. And I do have some serious ”’splainin” to do.

The thing is that, for a long time now, so many things I say turn out to be either politically incorrect and/or potentially offensive to someone, somewhere, somehow. And this is getting seriously out of hand.

For example: I read in the Times that if you refer to a “mature” woman as “young lady,” you are actually insulting her, calling attention to the fact that she’s not young at all.

Jeez Louise!

(And Louise Gikow, I hope you will respond to this in your usual unique and insightful way, although a simple, “Right on” will do. Just don’t say, “You go, girl,” because, well, you know.)

I often use the terms “young lady” or “young man” in what I mean to be a humorous context. Those I am addressing know all too well that they are not the bright young things they once were, but using these phrases, to me at least, conjures up those gentle reproaches we used to get from our elders when we WERE young. “All right, young lady, that’s enough!”

Enough indeed. Apparently, I have been guilty of inadvertently hurting the feelings of many a mature person, including, potentially, my gentleman friend. Anyway, he’s a tad younger than I, so does that count? The guy doesn’t seem to mind, and just smiles when I tell him to respect his elders.

Hello? Folks? This is called being playful. And it didn’t used to be fraught with danger.

On a more serious note, I am so afraid of saying the wrong thing, or god forfend, using the wrong pronoun, when talking to or about anyone other than those who are obviously heterosexual, that I tend to say nothing. Me! Say nothing! It’s an affront against nature.

Hmmmm. I probably HAVE affronted nature. Odds are good. I remember using the term “Mother Nature” more than once. Who does that offend? Fathers? Mothers? This cartoon character? Must be somebody. Mother Nature could probably cancel me in a heartbeat, if she/he/it/they had a mind to.

And so, dear reader, in this Age of Covid, when I can’t do so many things, including hugging my family and friends, I must watch every damn thing I say for fear that the wrath of the Politically Correct Police will come crashing down on me. I’d prefer a friendly word or two, but that’s the way the conversation crumbles these days.

That recent item in the Times put me over the edge, and if I didn’t have this blog where I can speak my mind, lord knows what I would do. Something really terrible, like telling someone that they look good on Zoom. Or using “him” or “her” instead of “them.” Or calling someone, “young man.” Them’s hanging offenses these days, and don’t you forget it, young lady/man. Or do you prefer not to specify? “Young person?” “Young thing?” I think not.

And to further complicate things, I just realized, this very minute, that we say—or used to say— “young lady,” but not “young gentleman.” Sexist pigs that we are. “Young woman” was also used, but to less comic effect. No problem these days because any attempt at humor is a hazardous endeavor and should be avoided at all costs. Just ask Chris Rock.

And this is why, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I vow to say nothing more. I’m not talking.

Wanna guess how long that will last?


For those of you who are new to the blog, scroll down for some other posts you might like, such as:

Love in the Time of Covid


  1. Audrey /

    To be on the safe side – should we just point and say, “Hey you!”

    • Pat /

      When I worked on The Electric Company for Children’s Television Workshop, we wondered about the appropriateness of Rita Moreno’s yelling, “Hey you guys!” Turns out she (and the writers) were on to something.

  2. John /

    Yep – so easy to get in trouble. In order to be safe, we may soon have to start with
    “What are your pronouns?”

    As for your last question – I hope (and expect) to receive another installment in the near future.

    • Pat /

      “What are your pronouns?” could replace “What’s your sign?” Could be the start of an interesting conversation.

  3. Diana Giuseppone /

    Congrats. You’re canceled.

  4. Steve Kalinsky /

    Back in the Middle Ages (that is to say my middle ages…when I was still working as a lawyer) I had to be very precise about what I was saying. My office was in NYC. I had an assistant whose office was in Albany. She was extremely capable but when we spoke, which was one or more times a day, she didn’t use pronouns…None. Never. I was on occasion confused…but mostly not. We got along great. You adjust.

    • Pat /

      Your assistant was ahead of her/their time. And yes, we’ll adjust. It just makes me cranky that we have to.
      Thanks for the story.

  5. Charles /

    Glad I got this…. If I don’t talk to anyone I don’t have to watch my language.

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