The word of the day is … geezer.
According to the dictionary, a geezer is a queer, odd, or eccentric person — used especially of elderly men.
The most recent portrayal of a geezer in advertising that I recall was for 10-10-987, a low-cost long-distance service owned by TelecomUSA, a division of MCI-WorldCom.
The ad featured a devious old man, ostensibly rich, who was manipulating a buxom young blonde. The ad’s storyline suggested that the not-too-bright blonde must do certain favors for the old man, and he would then reward her with low-cost long-distance telephone rates.
A young male hero foils the geezer by informing the young woman that she can always have low rates by simply dialing 10-10-987.
The problem befuddling me right now is why some Boomers find the word “geezer” attractive and worthy of perpetuation as our generation ages.
By email, I asked one of my Boomer pundit colleagues – who I truly respect but shall go unnamed here – and he replied matter-of-factly:
Lighten up. Geezer is tongue-in-cheek. I think people our age use it to describe themselves because we're not geezers yet — but in twenty years we probably will be. So it's a way of breaking the fall. And it's a funny word.
Those are thoughtful comments.
There has been a rush to adopt and adapt this word for new Boomer-focused media products. A very good magazine called GeezerJock has earned my respect and appreciation.
I have been interviewed and quoted by GeezerJock and appreciated it. I have also acquainted my audiences with the magazine when discussing healthy aging. I would like to see the magazine become more successful than it already is.
The magazine focuses on master athletes and gives well-deserved publicity to the many Boomers and older adults who daily are setting new standards for athletic accomplishment in later life. The magazine is a celebration of the active lifestyle and much needed in a time when 40% of Boomers are overweight. The stated purpose:
Our mission is to cover the new and active way of growing old in America. No longer are people settling for shuffleboard. Or mall walking. Or deep knee bends. They are running track, playing baseball - yes, hardball! - and even surfing well into their 60s and beyond. In print and online, GeezerJock celebrates the regenerative power of sports, activity and competition.
Then, just a couple of weeks ago, I discovered another new media property called Geezer Radio. The founders are creating a humorous, uplifting, edgy radio program for Boomers. The radio program’s stated purpose:
Geezer Radio is a one-hour weekly show featuring news, banter, interviews, and bits with a humorous bite! Geezer showcases people from coast to coast and around the world!
Again, I see noble and entertaining motives in motion here. However, I come back to that troubling word.
Perhaps “geezer” has already become associated with the best attributes of growing older, just as the “n” word is reemerging as a compliment or teasing rejoinder in some African American circles.
And since “geezer” denotatively refers to the male segment of aging adults, I began playing with words in search of an appropriate female complement:
I still believe in some of the goals of the sixties’ cultural revolution.
To change people’s hearts, begin by changing their language. That was much of the early focus of feminism. Nuance is important. We should be careful about moral relativism when it comes to words that have ignoble histories.
And why care…really?
Well, visit the International Longevity Center's recent report on Ageism in America. It becomes clear that in America today, ageism runs deep.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes, being a geezer.