Let’s talk about the R-word. First of all, in defense of its roots, it’s a useful word in the context of slowing down the progress of something. For instance, ritardando comes up in music a lot. Should it apply to people with mental or physical disabilities? Well, aside from the fact its connotation has rendered it offensive, its not a particularly accurate term anyway. So, let’s agree, no.
That word does pop into my head more than I’d like to admit. But if I’m to abstain, I do need a word to describe actions or persons who engage in actions so irretrievably ridiculous or irrational they merit they own word. It has no association with IQ. Bone-headed does not discriminate. I am among the most guilty. No matter how many times I do it, I am seemingly incapable of unloading the dryer without slamming that tiny protrusion on my elbow into the dryer door. And then howling in pain. Eric must think I really don’t like laundry.
So, I commence with finding an apt word for my lapses in judgment, lack of perception of bodily clearance, and general failure to act in accordance with my intellectual ability.
Here are the criteria I have assumed:
1. It can’t be offensive or derogatory to any group, other than people who do stupid things on occasion. We’ve already eliminated R. Bone-headed and block-headed may offend the generously-sized cranial types. I think PETA would take issue with “ass,” and besides that fails rule #2…
2. It has to work in verb, adjectival and noun form, as in, “I really _____ that”; “That was really ________” and “I’m such a(n) _____”. Stupid, dumb, idiot, and dense are out.
3. It has to be one short word or compound word. I am already having challenges managing myself, I can’t be expected to get multi-syllabic here. Boorish/boor and imbecilic/imbecile fail here too.
4. It has to convey the appropriate amount of ineptitude. Dull, inane, fool, and doltish are almost charming, they don’t say how narrow an escape from the Idiot Awards it was.
So, I’m left with making up a word – a word that suits the purpose without having the baggage of being a perfectly useful term that people loaded with connotation and contextual meaning and turned it ugly.
I’m thinking “gack” as in, “I really gacked that” and “Did you see that total gack?” Epic gack. Uber gack. Gack attack. No lack of gack. (I’m just hoping if I type it enough times my auto-correct will stop changing it to “back.”) Mortal gack. Back to back gack. Gack flack. And maybe even gackity-gack.
We tend to say “challenged” because it has the dual purpose of replacing the r-word and making fun of political correctness.
Frack is a nice one, and is already in use on Battlestar Galactica. See also use in relation to natural gas – tearing things up, making a general botch job of what once was.