Word Games…

manhole 1

Remember the old “Ben Casey” TV show?

There’d be the picture of a hand drawing 5 symbols on a chalk board.

The voice would intone, “Man…woman…birth….death…infinity”

Might have been the most succinct definition of life ever written.

But today, former college football coach Lee Corso might have to say, “Not so fast, my friend.”

The Berkley, California city council is considering legislation that would ban “gender-specific terms” and replace them with”gender neutral options” in its’ city code.

The city hopes to officially change more than two dozen terms.

City officials claim “in recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gendernonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary general inclusivity. Therefore, it is both timely and necessary to make the environment of (Berkley) city hall and the language of city legislation consistent with the principles of inclusion.”

Now, in California, even prior to this effort, state officials have stopped identifying gender by just “male” or “female” on official documents like driver’s licenses or birth certificates.

But it’s not just a California “thing” because there have been similar “genderless” rulings in  Alaska, Miami, Portland, Oregon and Philadelphia. (What? no more brotherly love in Philly?”)

Not all are behind these efforts.

One scribe suggestedreplacing “he” and “she” with “they” and “their” is grammatical mutilation.”


Might I suggest it could be a poke in the verbal “I”?

Berkley would like to have “manhole” replaced with “maintenance hole”.

“Manpower” gets set aside and Berkleyites would read “human effort” or “work force” in future legislation.

No more “policemen”.

They’ll be “police officers.”

“Brothers” and “sisters” fall out of favor for “siblings but “mothers and fathers” are okay.

(Unless it’s “founding fathers” I’m guessing.)

“Craftpeople” or”artisans” bump “craftsment” to the “do-no-use” category.

It gets really wordy when you replace “master”.

Now you have to choose from “captain”, “skipper”, “pilot”, “safety officer” or “central”.

No more “sorority” or “fraternity”.

That warps into “collegiate Greek system residence”.

“He” and “she” would also get replaced by specific titles such as “the attorney” , “the candidates” or simply “they”.

“Male” and “female” shifts to the catchy “people of different genders”.

“Men” and “women”  will be “people of a single gender”.

But the Berkley folks missed the boat totally with “pregnant woman”.

In the first place, isn’t that an oxymoron?

I doubt “pregnant employee” will ever be used for someone who stands before a urinal.

Years ago, a former consultant for our company used to take us to task when we got “too deep in the weeds” with his statement, “You’re picking fly poop out of pepper”.

But that’s the world we live in today and I’m all for it.

Gives me lots of writing material.

But I’m also confused.

Prior to 1978, we used to name all of our Atlantic hurricanes after women.

Maybe “people of a different gender” felt it was unfair to name destructive masses of hot air and rain after only “their kind”.

So, in 1979, Hurricane Bob showed up on the list and we now alternate between male and female, er, “names of different genders” each hurricane season.

By the way, to make sure that gate swings both ways, in a manner of speaking, should we call those tropical storms “they-a-canes, them-a-canes” or at the very least “him-a-canes?”

We former “guys” have feelings, too.

I was unwittingly sucked into the “gender-neutral” arena when my “spouse of a different gender” purchased one of those floor-sweeping robots.

I dubbed it “Dusty”, solely thinking that was a pretty cool name for a piece of equipment that daily dusts our floors.

But, in hindsight, its moniker could have been for “Dusty” Springfield or “Dusty” Baker.

I was amazingly “pc” without  even trying to be.

(I still want to growl, “Get off my lawn!”)

Now we can relabel all these gender things if we choose but roosters are still gonna crow and hens are still gonna lay eggs, no matter what we call ’em.

On the heels of Neal Armstrong’s foot on the surface of the moon anniversary, “That’s one for step for man…a giant leap for mankind” sounds better than “That’s one for step for a person of a different gender…a giant leap for people-kind”.

Back in the 60’s, the 5th Dimension sang about the “dawning of the age of Aquarius”.

I think we’re currently living in the “Age of the Curious”.

I find it amazing that there are people hellbent on relative minutia that we no longer see the big picture.

Corey Hart sand about “wearing his sunglasses at night” but I’m convinced blinders have been added to the shades.

There should be a lot more red-tipped canes on the streets if I’ reading this right.

The pendulum has swung in a totally different direction in recent years  but it will swing back.

But it never comes all the way back.

Frankly I’m glad it doesn’t.

Stick your right hand as far as you can to the right and your left hand as far as possible to the left.

As you stand there with arms extended, consider my theory on life.

Somewhere between the two extremes of your hands is where reality lies.

It might be slightly to the left or slightly to the right but neither extreme position is totally correct.

My opinion.

On a Simpson episode, Grandpa Abe once referred to the French as “hairy-pitted, cheese-eating, wine-sipping surrender monkeys”.

But I liked the French when they said, “Viva la difference!”

That they got right.

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