Euphemisms (usually) lie!


Contributing Editor
Walter W. Pickut

Euphemism: A nice way to say something unpleasant.

And “unpleasant” is a euphemism for offensive, too blunt, vulgar—you know, for something “nasty.”

After all, you do know what I mean when I say, “Your dog ‘did his business’ on my lawn today—again!” I just won’t print that word here, OK?

For example, here are a few of my favorite euphemisms for Stupid:

  • A single oar in the water.
  • Two sandwiches short of a picnic.
  • One pickle shy of a barrel.
  • She has a leak in her think-tank.
  • He’s got cobwebs in his attic.
  • Steering the ship with a teaspoon.

Got it? Of course you do. Otherwise, you would be out of your depth in a mud puddle.

So this week, your Jamestown Gazette is attacking some other euphemisms. This time we’ll go after the ones for “old.”

According to the United Nations, the average life expectancy of a person in the 1960s was just over 50 years old. It is now nearly 79.

Today, you are definitely not old after your 50th birthday.

I’ll even do away with the nicest euphemisms, like elderly instead of old fogie, Senior Citizen in place of geezer, and the polite OAP (Old Age Pensioner) to avoid calling you a fossil.

Active After 50, as you will see in this week’s cover story, is simply a pleasant fact of life earned mid-stream in a much longer life being well lived.

Life after 50 is all about enjoying, profiting by, and sharing wisely everything you spent that first half-century building. It is a gift and a reward, not the beginning of nodding off into an unwelcome sunset.

If you’ve worked hard to reach that 50-year mark, consider it merely another milestone, this one called “Wisdom,” the maturing of life’s experiences, the aging of a fine wine.

“I do believe in the old saying, ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’ Our experiences, good and bad, make us who we are. By overcoming difficulties, we gain strength and maturity,” 47-year-old Angelina Jolie once explained with an eye on her own future.

While modern medicine and civilization now all but promise our bodies longer, healthier, and more vigorous life after 50, only the wisdom gained over those years can make it good.

Remember Ann Landers—the fictional but beloved series of newspaper columnists—the wise lady who always had the right answer for everything? She said it like this:

“Maturity: Be able to stick with a job until it is finished. Be able to bear an injustice without having to get even. Be able to carry money without spending it. Do your duty without being supervised.”

That’s what I advise as the measure of life after 50, the sign of all that’s yet to come. But don’t forget that one last magic ingredient you’ll need to hold it all together,

“To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.”

William Arthur Ward

So, remember your sense of humor as you mature, age, and prosper. Just do it wisely. Don’t be [final euphemism alert] one clown short of a circus.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.