I used to be a major potty mouth. I mean major. While I still slip up, I don’t like to hear myself swear. And I only do it when I’m very angry or frustrated, which makes me feel even worse when I slip. Plus, it’s usually aimed at my husband, who luckily isn’t easily offended and also realizes that when I’m cussing he’s totally figured out the right buttons to push (sometimes he does it on purpose because he thinks it’s funny).
I work in an environment where there are a lot of younger people, and most of them are pretty adept at cussing. And most of them just sound like they don’t have a very big vocabulary. But there are some people who do it so well, and with such perfect timing. that it is almost an art! They know just the right word to use at just the right time and I have to admit, it makes me laugh (and I’m not talking about taking the Lord’s name in vain here, but just general profanity).
It reminds me of when I was a little girl. In 5th grade one of my best friends had an interesting last name. One of the boys in class had a little crush on her and he used to tease her by making fun of her last name. Unmercifully and unendingly (you know how persistent little boys can be when trying to impress the object of their undying love). Finally one day the teacher got up in front of the class and said, “Boys and girls, sometimes when a boy likes a girl he’ll tease her”. Apparently, not a good tactic, because the boy doing the teasing turned bright red and dropped an f-bomb. An F-BOMB! My teacher, who had never ever even frowned at us, GRABBED HIM BY ONE EAR AND DRAGGED HIM FROM THE ROOM. She came back a few minutes later and didn’t say a word about it. We were flummoxed to say the least. I don’t think any of us learned a darn thing the rest of the day. And I don’t know if I was the only one – but I had no idea what that word meant. I was, however, smart enough to figure out that I shouldn’t ask our teacher for clarification. Finally our banished classmate came back just as the day was ending, eyes red, still sniffling, and obviously contrite.
So that night I went home, still completely amazed by what had happened. At dinner, my Dad asked my brother and I the same thing he always asked us, “You kids learn anything new in school today?” Being the
bright smart aleck child that I was, I told my dad I had learned a new word. Of course, he wanted to know the word, so I very proudly told him! He was apoplectic! He jumped up from the table, turned bright red and started yelling. My Mom said, “Phil, calm down, I don’t think she even knows what it means”, and I had to admit I didn’t have a clue. So my Dad told me it was an awful word for something beautiful and I was never to use it again. Instead, I was thrilled to have learned such a wonderful word – it amazed me that one little word could cause such chaos. Too bad it’s so commonplace now – it doesn’t even really shock anyone anymore.
But, it does bring to mind a funny old joke. There were two brothers, about 10 and 7 years old. They decided it was time to start cussing, and they were going implement this new plan at breakfast the next morning. That morning, they came downstairs, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on the world. Mom asked them what they wanted for breakfast. The older boy said, “Oh hell, give me some Cheerios”. His mom jumped up, grabbed him by the ear (what is it with the ears) and took him back to his room for a whuppin’. She came back a few minutes later, fixed the eye on her younger son and said, “And what do YOU want for breakfast?”, to which he replied, “Well, I sure don’t want any of those damn Cheerios!”.