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Alleviation of gender talk’s awkwardness needed

My dad described a history-themed restaurant that labeled rest rooms as Samson or Mark Antony for men or Cleopatra and Delilah for women. He joked that if you didn’t know your history, answering the call of nature could prove unsettling.

Gender talk is, as they say, “a thing.” Its definition still references the male and female sexes but with ever-changing “birds and bees” scenarios.

Then there’s grammar. We don’t want to offend someone by confusing their pronoun with an expletive.

Not to be too curmudgeonly — there’s a brighter side to almost everything — but aren’t we complicating things a bit? I’m noticing more emails from businesses that identify the sender’s pronouns. I think this obsession with our uniqueness started with social media’s juvenile effort to make us feel universally adored. “Don’t forget to like me?” plead countless adult Facebook posters as if they’re still in fourth grade.

Full disclosure: I’ve also been guilty of selfish, manipulative exhortations to “like me,” when I was 7.

LGBTQ issues are complex and will take time to assimilate. Until then, can we agree that most people can still be inoffensively addressed as Mr. or Ms., at least on initial written correspondence? We can fine-tune our understanding of each other’s gender nuances when we’re better acquainted.

I was to meet a new boss named Flo. After asking if I could speak to her, I was told she was a “he.” Turns out his name was Florisil. A simple Mr. in front of his name would have been helpful.

It’s a short-term solution, but it might alleviate some initial awkwardness as we learn to co-exist with our ever-increasing versions of each other.

Besides, aren’t we offended by enough things already?

Jim Newton | Itasca, Ill.

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