Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been popping up all over my Facebook News Feed ever since she unveiled her campaign to ban the word bossy. I for one would actually love to be called bossy, because it might imply that people see me as boss material, or at the very least someone worth paying attention to, or listening to, or not ignoring completely when I politely leave post-it notes asking not to take any of my good Mexican glass bottle Cokes out of the fridge.
But I also hate being told what to do. I feel like I’m constantly being bossed around. By my boss. By the government. So yeah, let’s get rid of the word bossy. I’m all for hashtagging BanBossy. But why stop there? While we’re at it, here’s a list of other words long overdue for a ban:
I remember when I was a little kid and my family would go on vacation every summer, it would always be a shock to see my dad put on a bathing suit and take off his shirt to jump in the pool. Because it’s not a sight we were used to seeing around the house. Now that I’m a grown man, I feel that same instant recoil, the jolt of disbelief every time I step in front of the mirror on my way into the shower. Nobody told me when I was a little kid exactly what I was in for as an adult.
And even though I try my best at manscaping to a degree of acceptable manageability, every once in a while someone will say something to me like, “Dude, your hands are fucking hairy.” I just smile and try to act casual, but I really want to grab them on the wrist, pull them in close, look them dead in the eye and say, “It’s not just my hands. It’s everywhere. And it’s getting worse. Help me.” Please, it’s time to #BanHairy.
Here’s a word with absolutely no positive connotations whatsoever, yet it’s thrown around casually, like a term of endearment, the way you’d call a loveable yet disheveled looking puppy mangy or mutt. You might not think lanky is that big of a deal, but you try being a 160-pound high school sophomore who, after a very intensive growth spurt, rockets up to six foot three almost overnight. Would you be able to control the trajectory of your limbs at all times? Do you think it’s easy to constantly not trip while walking or running?
Fast forward ten years and you’re waiting tables for a living. You’ve filled out somewhat, but your arms and legs are still disproportionately long, and the effect is only pronounced when the restaurant can’t seem to find a waiter’s uniform that fits just right. Then there are the accidents, the spilled glass of wine, the five or so dropped platter plates in the kitchen. Just try it, I dare you, see what happens if you say lanky. This applies also to gangly, klutzy, and spastic, OK, but it’s long overdue that we #BanLanky.
Listen, I don’t think that I’m spending too much time calling you. I just love you so much. Is there something wrong with showing my affection? Yes, after you explained to me how embarrassed you were after I sent that barbershop quartet to serenade you at the office for Valentine’s Day, I get it, that it was maybe too big of a gesture. But if you’d only synch our Google calendars like I’ve been telling you we should, I’d have known that you were in the middle of a really important presentation, I could have waited until later in the day.
And look, I’m behaving myself here, on the Internet. I’m not doing those big public displays of love on the Internet anymore, where I write your full name in the middle of the article, tag you, and then post it all over your Facebook wall. I get it, personal space, boundaries, all of those things the lawyer highlighted in the subpoena, OK, I know how to read. Baby, just give me a call and we can talk about it, OK? Baby? Just don’t call me clingy, OK? We’ve seriously got to #BanClingy.
Here’s a word that, in its quest to be everything, ultimately winds up meaning nothing. Actually, it’s worse than nothing, it’s doing a disservice to language. It’s like, I went to a Vietnamese place last night with my brother. After I ordered my food, the waiter warned me, “Oooh, that’s pretty spicy.” I told him, “That’s OK, I like spicy.” My brother then put in his dish, to which the waiter said the same thing, “That’s very spicy.”
Ultimately both of our dishes packed about as much heat as a packet and a half of “mild” sauce from Taco Bell, but as we sat there and wondered if maybe the chefs watered down the seasoning because they didn’t think we could handle it, we both recalled different experiences in which dishes marked as “spicy” were served so hot as to be practically inedible. And that’s the problem with spicy. That bag of BBQ Fritos over there is labeled “spicy,” but so is that ghost pepper that would render my tongue immobile. We need more words, vocabulary that’s better able to describe the various degrees of heat. Until then, there’s no option but to #BanSpicy.
It’s just like Obi Wan said in the middle of Episode IV: “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.” It’s all skill. Like when I was playing my friend Matt in a game of HORSE last week, he was destroying me. Left-handed shot from the point. H. Three point shot on one foot. H-O. By the time he cornered me all the way to H-O-R-S, I didn’t have any choice. So I started pulling my junk shots out. Slam-dunk. H. Matt’s a lot shorter than me and can’t reach the rim. H-O. Another dunk. And another. H-O-R-S for the tie game.
“You lanky motherfucker!” Matt was pissed. (#BanLanky.) “This is beyond cheap, Rob. I bet you ten bucks you can’t win on a real shot. A three-pointer.” Ten bucks? I couldn’t resist. “You’re on.” And yeah, I don’t have much of an outside shot, but for whatever reason, this one just sailed in, a total swish. And Matt, he hits maybe nine out of ten, a great shot, he missed this one, a brick. Of course I gloated a little, I mean, it’s a competition. And as he handed over the ten singles, he commented, “What a lucky shot.” You know what Matt? It wasn’t luck. It was skill. I don’t always hit those shots, but that one was a perfect three. OK? You can’t take that victory away from me by calling it lucky. Because it wasn’t. And now look. Everybody’s reading about this on the Internet. And they’re all hearing about what a baby you were. I won, fair and square. #BanLucky.
Originally published on Thought Catalog