There are so many ways to measure how old I'm getting: there's my number of gray hairs, my increasing disdain for popular culture, dollar amount spent on imaginary cats, wisdom (har har), etc.
I now have a new one though: number of words that were acceptable to say when I was a kid but are now offensive.
When I was a kid, your main arsenal of insults primarily consisted of explaining to people either how stupid something was or how gay it was.
"Mom, I hate my brown shirt! It's retarded!"
"I don't want to see that movie. It's so gay."
Any variation on those words got the point across: queer, tard, gaywad, gaytard, etc. They all meant the same thing: does not meet my impeccable standards.
I stopped using the word 'gay' as a synonym for bad after trotting it out around actual gay people a few times. It took a while to unwrench it from the deep recesses of my brain since I had been using the term long before I even knew what a homosexual act was. I'm entirely out of the habit now, although I often fantasize about using it in a particularly politically correct environment, like slipping in a "The PTA Budget is $10,000 in the red this year, which is totally gay" into the PTA minutes. So far, I've abstained. At this point, it's been decades since I've offended people by clumsily equating their sexuality with things I deemed idiotic.
Retarding my usage of the word 'retarded' has been tougher because I'm personally friends with plenty of gay people, but not so much with the mentally handicapped. Plus, I get that the meaning of the word gay really has nothing to do with something being stupid, whereas the meaning of the word 'retarded' is at least related to the topic of brain activity. That being said, I get that many people are offended by the word and so it's not really appropriate unless I'm trying to be offensive.
But, man, what can I use? I mean, are there any groups of people left that we can all agree can be made fun of? Polish jokes are passe. Blonde jokes have run their course.
I need a go-to group to make fun of. Could we all agree, perhaps, to have a rotating nationality, or eye color, or hair style, that would be the designated target of our scorn and humor?
One year it could be the Luxembourgers, and the next year it could be people with curly hair. Something like that would really fill a void in my life.