I've been meaning to share this one for a while now. It doesn't go over well with certain audiences, so apologies in advance if the reader isn't able to look past the terminology and find humour in it.
This happened back at the store I used to work at. I wouldn't say it was in "the ghetto" because that term really isn't true. But all of my co-workers would and did constantly declare that we were in the ghetto.
Anyway I was on the phone with an insurance company operator who was somewhere in India. There was that obvious satellite delay between everything we said.
I had to spell a name for her. I don't remember what the name was. It's not important. Let's say for the sake of this anecdote that it was "Gibson". So I'm like, "G as in George, I as in Indian, B as in boy, S as in Sam, O as in..." And at this point I am beginning to realise that I don't have a good word for O. I think I went with Omega. So I go "uhh, Omega. N as in..." At by this time I'm already a little rattled so I don't think before I speak.
I go, "Uhh, let's see, what's an N word, lemme think of an N word." Now it's at this point that I become acutely aware that 100% of my coworkers are African American. Hell, everybody within earshot is African American. And there is indeed an N word that I can think of. There was a certain N word in particular that was currently crowding out all other words in my head at the moment. In fact, this N word is so infamous that it is referred to as simply THE N Word. When you say "The N Word", there is no doubt in the mind of the listener as to which of the million N words in existence that you're referring to.
So this all dawns on me over about a million years, which was probably only like 3 seconds in real life. Then the operator chimes in, in her impeccable colonial British accent, "N as in Nancy?"
And perhaps too loudly, I go "Aaahahaha, yes. N as in Nancy."
So from now on I call it "The Nancy Word" whenever I would say the term "The N Word". I find that it puts another degree of separation between the real N word and the term "The N Word" and me saying either one of them. Even the term "The N Word" is generally offensive. The Nancy Word serves as a nice comfortable firewall between my mind and my mouth. Which I apparently need.