What is a good “N” word that is easy to decipher as the “N” word, y’know when you’re spelling it out for someone on the phone?
I don’t know if anyone else has ever suffered from this, but I always get flummoxed when it comes to the “N” word.
Due to the social conditioning and heft embodied in the “N word,” I can’t help but think of the actual “N word” whenever I’m trying to come up with a word that is easy for the party on the other line to discern.
I had an incident today, where I was in the middle of spelling out a word, and I was like, “‘N’ as in… ” and I thought of Nigeria, and I loathed myself for being so predictable. Then I thought of “nail,” which sounded too close to “mail,” and thus accomplished nothing to distinguish an “N” word from an “M” word.
And then I thought of “Nordstrom,” which was like gah… ’cause in my OCD mind, I wanted to come up with a non-name of something. “Norway” and “Nagasaki” occurred to me as well. And then I thought of “nonstop,” but figured I could do better… ugh… then I came up with “naked,” which was also a loaded word… god I hate myself…
Finally the party on hold was like, “Nancy.”
The phone call ended shortly thereafter, but I still felt hung up by this n-ignmatic conundrum, plunging me into a rabbit hole that ended with “Nintendo,” “Ninja Turtle,” and “nothing.” The phonetic alphabet also ascribes “November.”
It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this. I get asked this more than anything else, but it never gets easier.
I try not to show it, my anxiety, as I say, “All of my life.”
“Well, let me tell you this much,” she says with a look of surprise, before winking, “I don’t detect any accent.”
This too, I’m told all the time. Somewhere between the relief and paranoia, I mutter my thanks.