I won’t even say “crazy” to my therapist. Not just because it’s an ableist slur (we’ll get to that) but because I know she’s going to ask me “What do you mean by that?” She knows that word is bullshit. And now you will too.
When someone describes something as “crazy, for lack of a better word,” alarm bells ring: NO. YOU’RE LYING. THERE’S DEFINITELY A BETTER WORD. In casual conversation, “crazy” means anything and everything.
Moment of honesty: I use the word “crazy” in one situation only: when I can’t hear what someone has just said. Ugh I hate bars. I have no idea what’s happening in bars, other than nobody should ever play “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something at a volume level that makes my brain hurt. Trying to catch up with friends, or meet new people…I have fuck-all idea what anybody’s saying. So I just squint through the dingy lighting to discern when their lips stop moving to indicate that it’s time for me to speak:
Me: “Hi, how’s it going?”
Them: “Oh, this week was — YOU SAY WE’VE GOT NOTHING IN COMMON –“
Me: Huh. Crazy.
Them: “Yeah, on Monday, — THE WORLD HAS COME BETWEEN US –“
Me: Oh wow, crazy.
Them: “Yeah, so I’m thinking now I’m just gonna — STILL I KNOW YOU JUST DON’T CARE –“
Me: Hah! Crazy.
Them: “Yeah, maybe, I mean, do you think I should — WHAT ABOUT BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S SHE SAID —
Me: I don’t know. That’s pretty crazy.
Them: “You’re right. Do you wanna get a drink?”
Me: Oh, God, yes.
Did I pull it off? Luckily, the word “crazy” is so devoid of meaning, I can participate in conversation without hearing any of the context. Thanks, “crazy!”
Ding! That means it’s time for the FEMALE PERSPECTIVE. Women and craziness have been linked together hysterically – I mean, HISTORICALLY – for ages. The term “hysteria” is a play on our anatomy, and the idea that our genitals cast a magic spell of craziness is perpetuated every time someone (even well-meaning) utters those three letters, “P-M-S.” Maybe I chafe at the word “crazy” because, like “PMS,” it seems like a term used to dismiss women for having emotions or doing things. A woman is acting in a way that is not pleasing to a man: she is sad, angry, disappointed? SHE’S CRAZY OMG PMS DUDE WTF.
|Here’s a cute bunny to go with your adorable internalized misogyny. Crazy, huh?|
So what does “crazy” even mean? You say, duh, Meghan, “crazy” is slang for “mentally ill.” Oh, cool. Cool, because mental illness is something we should have jokey slang about? Yeah, when you put it that way, you definitely don’t sound like the douchiest douche who ever douched. Let’s take a minute to look at the range of mental health disorders that affect people during the course of their lifetime, and think about how different, say, substance abuse problems differ from PTSD differs from eating disorders differs from depression differs from *plops big-ass Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders on your lap* Yeah, you’re right, you can totally sum up ALL OF THESE things under the word, “crazy.” Sure. Cute. Cool. Go ahead.
Now you whine: I don’t mean literally “crazy”! I’m just using it to describe something, you know, crazy!”
Okay, so the thing you’re actually trying to describe is:
So if you tell me, Meghan, this movie was crazy. I’m sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about! Is the movie a tense thriller? Did you not enjoy it? Was it so bad you can’t understand how it got made? Was it – Hold on, give me back the DSM – *flips through pages* —
“Crazy, for lack of a better word”? Naw, dude. There’s definitely a better word. If you can’t find a better word, I’ve got one to describe you: here’s a hint, it rhymes with “crazy,” Starts with an “L”, sound it out. “Lllllllaaaaaazzz-….”