Dropping the F-bomb vs. the S-bomb

About a year ago, I came home from work. When I got into the kitchen, my mother-in-law looked at me seriously as if something major was on her mind.

Me:  “How was your day?”

Mother-in-law: “Not bad. Kingston said the “f” word today.”

Huh? The “f” word? No no no! Not the “f” word!

My head began to swirl, you know like on the Twilight Zone? I started rewinding the transcript in my brain trying to find out when I had dropped the F-bomb in front of my youngest.

To be completely honest, I like to use the F-bomb because it’s such a versatile word (noun, verb, adjective, etc.). I try to reserve the F-bomb for when I’m hanging with my girlfriends, and we are venting or gabbing about something wickedly nutty.

This brain search for the F-bomb was yielding zero results.

Me:  “Well, what happened?” (holding breath – hoping not to pass out from shame)

Mother-in-law:  “I smelled something and then I asked if he had dirty pants. He said, ‘No, I farted.’

FARTED? That was the “f’word? Hallelujah!

OK, this was an “f” word I could totally get behind. Whew! My periodic potty mouth hadn’t gotten me into trouble – yet.

Now that we’ve established the F-bomb is not being tossed around this multigenerational household, let’s move on to the dangers of dropping the S-bomb; senior citizen.

Since my mother-in-law moved in, I’ve made a conscious effort to educate myself on the senior scene. I’m reading about seniors, tweeting with senior-esque organizations, checking the local senior calendar…and the list goes on.

If I see something in the newspaper or in the grocery store, for example, that focuses on seniors and may fit my mother-in-law’s interests, I’m practically rushing home (totally excited) to share this gem of senior news with her.

Her response – crickets. She hardly says one word – not even a “meh”. She’s not rude and does not roll her eyes at me when I gush about the senior happenings, but I think she may want to.

Is senior citizen a bad word? Is referring to a mature adult as a senior synonymous with dropping the F-bomb?

I asked my mother-in-law was so wrong with the term senior citizen?

Her response, “I don’t see myself that way.”

That way?

I had heard her on the phone with the dental office asking them to apply the senior citizen discount to her bill. I had listened to her lament about not being old enough to qualify for the senior citizen rate for bus fare.

Huh? What? I did not understand this “sometimes I’m a senior, sometimes I’m not” ping ponging.

I had to know more, so I sent some questions, via email, to “seniors” that I know (senior =55 and older).

Sent to:                27 people (24 women / 3 men)

Responses:         8 (all women – including my own mother)

What one word comes to mind when you hear the term/phrase “senior citizen”? (This question was a challenge because participants kept providing more than one word.)

  • Happy
  • Discounts!!
  • When I hear the word senior citizen, I think about what discounts are available to me. I do not confuse a senior citizen with being an old person. I think old is a state of mind and inactivity and old age is over 90.
  • Discounts
  • I think of an old person, bent over & walking with a cane. I have a lot of friends that are seniors like me but I don’t think of them as senior citizens. I look at myself & my friends as seasoned.
  • Old
  • Me & Most of My Friends
  • Old!
  • Aged
  • Old

Do you consider yourself to be a “senior citizen”? Why or why not?

  • Yes, I am retired.  I am a member of AARP and I can’t do what I use to be able to do.
  • Not yet I am 61 and still feeling sassy!
  • Yes, I consider myself a senior citizen because I am over 50. Also that is when you can become a member of AARP and start getting their benefits and magazines.
  • I don’t consider myself a Senior Citizen because I try to be very active & keep myself healthy, but I do take advantage of the senior discounts.
  • Yes, and proud of it!  I’ll be “58″ this year
  • No, I am lucky to stay healthy and active and I do NOT feel “old” at all.
  • No. I resist labels for people in all arenas of my life.
  • No, because I am still working.  Yes, when I want a discount.

If you do consider yourself to be a “senior citizen” – what perks/benefits to you see or like?

  • Time!  I can volunteer and set my own schedule.  I can travel at times when “deals” are offered and planes/resorts are not crowded.  I don’t have to multi-task every minute.
  • Movie prices, Medicare, cheap lift tickets
  • I do consider myself a senior citizen and I like getting discounts, I like being retired at age 55, I like going to the senior center and just listening to other seniors of all ages.
  • Still single, fortunate enough to do what I want, when I want to and not have to be accountable to anyone but The Good Lord!
  • Discounts

Are there any downsides to being a “senior citizen”?

  • Of course.  My body doesn’t respond like it used to.  I have to be careful not to get “set in my ways”.  I have to push myself to remain productive because I “don’t have to” be productive.  It is harder to volunteer and be productive than you might think.  You have the time and responsibility to get involved in “issues” and that is emotionally exhausting and frustrating.  Lots of negative energy in politics.  Your friends are ill/dying.  You can count how many “good years” you can hope to have left and the number doesn’t sound so good.
  • Memory issues
  • I have not experienced any downsize to being a senior except most discounts are for seniors over the age of 65 and I am only 58.
  • I think the only downside to being a senior is that everything seems to be going up except our pensions & social security. The government wants to cut our benefits & it seems like we spend a lot of time going for doctors’ appointments.
  • I don’t see any as long as I remain reasonably “Healthy”.
  • Perception that decreased capabilities automatically come with increasing age — yes, we all slow down with time but life experience and broader perspective balance/outweigh the downsides.
  • Biggest downside is the stereotype that goes with the label. Words are powerful and have creative energy. What we say over and over will manifest.
  • Being treated differently at the work place.  I see esteemed colleagues being marginalized daily with the hope they will retire.

Do you use/try to use any “senior citizen” discounts? If so – for what items/services?

  • Denny’s breakfast specials.  AARP hotels and cars.  Carson’s (department store) senior days.
  • Movie prices, Medicare, cheap lift tickets
  • I have not found many discounts for seniors aged 65 and below.
  • I shop at Kohl’s on Wednesday because it is “senior citizen day”.
  • AARP, movie theatres, restaurants and any others that are available to me on an as needed basis.
  • Local discounts for shopping, rec center fees, subscriptions, etc. — some small reward for advancing chronological age?!?
  • I am only recently eligible for this type of discount. Recently, when buying a ticket for a movie, I was reminded that I was eligible and I was surprised at my first impulse which was to not take the discount. Not because I mind being frugal. I enjoy using coupons, shopping for deals, negotiating a good price on items for purchase large and small. No, I think I was resisting the label.
  • Yes, I use it for discounts for hotels, movies, and wherever I see a sign.

Do you subscribe to any “senior citizen” publications (hard copy/internet)? If so – which ones?

  • AARP
  • AARP comes unasked for
  • My husband and I are members of AARP and we receive their two publications-a magazine and newsletter.
  • I get AARP magazine monthly.
  • Besides AARP magazine which comes with my subscription, no. I subscribe to the same publications I always have, i.e.  O, W, Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise, Conde Nast and other travel publications.
  • No, though I continue to get solicitations from AARP. I am not retired, so I can’t take advantage of many of the AARP offers and services, and am satisfied with insurance coverage I have already.
  • Yes. I subscribe to AARP even though my political views are more conservative than this organization. However they have a really good price on auto and home insurance for members.
  • I get AARP because I am a member.

Other ideas/thoughts…?

  • Yeah, we are going to be (already are) blamed for high costs of insurance, social security etc.  People resent us because of this.  We are a “wasted” resource that is not valued as highly as we should be valued.  I think a “fix” would be to have an incentive to volunteer for seniors.
  • For my husband and me (he’s 66), it’s unbelievable how fast and far time has gone.  We have been married 37 years, have had a great time and still feel great. Good Health is all as you age (and lots of moisturizer before it’s too  late).
  • I think it is important to be an active senior and have a hobby (gardening for me, reading and researching on the internet) or go hang out at the senior center. It would be great if you have planned well and have your finances in order. It is a sad thing to have free time and not enough funds to enjoy that free time. It is great to learn the lesson of having your free time to use as you want versus going out and buying stuff that will affect your need to work (or not) because of money issues. It is a constant lesson and discussion that is helpful amongst friends who are challenged with this dilemma or adjustment in their spending and thought process around money matters.
  • Being a senior citizen to me is a state of mind.  I still look good, most of the time feel good, and still enjoy most of things I enjoyed before I became a senior; including SEX (it just gets better with time).
  • No, but thanks for asking!!
  • I find it interesting that Congress is looking at upping the retirement age when the reality is in the work-place they would like to give anyone over 55, let alone in their 60s, the heave-ho.  Remember, the longer you work somewhere, the more likely you are making more money.  So, when management wants to save money, guess where they look first.  Has nothing to do with quality, it is just about the money.  Yes, it is illegal, but there are ways to keep it legal and still get rid of someone or make it so intolerable that they feel forced to leave.  Not sure how that will play out for the next generation when people may not be able to retire until they are 68-70 years old.

My takeaway

The term “senior citizen” is tricky and it’s almost like dropping the F-bomb, depending on the individual.


Just so you know I sent the same questions to my mother-in-law.

Her response…crickets. (Meaning – she did not respond to my email message.)

I am no longer dropping the S-bomb,and I highly doubt I’ll be using the term “elderly”. Can you even imagine?

senior discount, Helen Mirren, couple



8 Responses to Dropping the F-bomb vs. the S-bomb

  1. It wasn’t the senior discount at the dentist’s office, it was the self-pay-therefore-no-paperwork-pay-at-the-time-of-service discount.

  2. I enjoyed all the comments about how people feel about being a “senior citizen”. Often we think of it as negative, but there are some perks to being a “senior citizen”.

  3. I think my coffee came out of my nose, again. Great post! I always have to be extra careful with my language around my toddler. Came by via UBP btw! Party on!

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