Manners: Insults


When I feel the need to insult someone, I have decided I am going to call them a kidney stone. No one likes kidney stones. No one wants them. They are painful. They make you miserable. Everyone feels sorry for the person who has to deal with the kidney stone.  Doesn’t it sound like the best of all insults?

It’s rude to insult others. There is no good manner rule that allows for one person to disparage another.  However, we all know that bottling up frustration is equally unhealthy. So how does one express the frustration without insulting someone else?

I don’t know. This is an area of manners that is difficult for me. It’s a knife’s edge of expressing my own frustration while not forgetting that the person frustrating me – well is also a person. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that rule.

Sometimes I don’t want to give them the benefit of a doubt that they are having a bad day and need sympathy. Sometimes, I’m pretty sure they deserve whatever is said about them. Sometimes I just want to make them work customer service for five years and then they can be in a position of power and privilege again.

I have some rules for myself. I avoid calling people body parts. No matter how gross the body part may be and how much the analogy fits of what came from the person matches what comes from the body part… I don’t use it. I also don’t like most of the insults other people use: the insults which are based on race, gender, religion… the perfect example (which isn’t exactly an insult, but fits well) is that I won’t say “So-and-So gyp’ed me.” – there is a historical context to the word “gyp’ed” which refers to a gypsy stereotype that they were snake-oil salesmen/con men/thieves.

This is how I came to kidney stone.  It isn’t a natural body part. It is in fact toxic waste in the body. It is vastly unpleasant and painful to deal with. Thus, perfect as an insult.


4 thoughts on “Manners: Insults”

  1. A colleague of mine uses the term “turkey” frequently, and I’ve taken to it. It’s so derogatory without being vulgar. I think it has different implications than “kidney stone” does, so it may be useful in different circumstances. Just a suggestion to add to your repertoire of non-body part, non-vulgar, non-religion/race/gender insults.


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