Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Several dirty words

I don't swear like I used to. Back in the day, whenever that was, I was a champion though. Especially when I played sports. I used the word "horseshit" so much, you would have thought I was paid to endorse the stuff as a breakfast cereal. Bad calls by officials, bad plays by teammates, bad line-up decisions by coaches (usually involving me and whether or not I was in that line-up), bad post-game spread: all horseshit (actually, I don't recall ever being unhappy with a post-game spread).
I don't use that kind of language as much any more. It's said that the use of profanity indicates a lack of self control, good taste and a limited vocabulary. That's probably true. But I still like to let it fly sometimes.
  • For one thing, I'm good at it.
  • For another, it serves a purpose sometimes. It's effective for demonstrating degrees of intensity. "I don't want any tomato juice" and "I don't want any fucking tomato juice". One of those statements allows you to think, "I'll pour him a glass anyway, in case he decides to try it". The other does not. And let's face it, there are certain words for which there are no effective "clean" substitutes; some things are just shit (bull...or horse...or otherwise) and some people are just fuckers (mother...or pig... or otherwise).
  • And most importantly, I can. I'm an adult now. I can say anything I want. Other than an unfortunate laundry incident a while back, I've not had the taste of soap in my mouth in years. I never fought in a war, but if I had, the foremost thought in my mind (well, maybe the secondmost thought in my mind, right after "Oh God, the guys on their side have bullets too!") would have been "It's an honor to fight for the right to use profanity, just like generations have done in the past"
There are those who would seek to restrict my hard-fought-for freedom to use profanity, though. Such was the case once when I was out at a social gathering and happened to find myself at a table of a couple that I know. I dropped an F or S bomb, I don't remember which, or why even, and the mood changed.
"Ooh. Clark. Yeah. That's going to cost you a .25 donation to Stephen's swear jar," indicating a young child they had with them that I hadn't even noticed previously. 'Stephen' produced a little blue can from under the table and handed it to me with a smug grin.
"Oh. How cute. You brought your kid. And he brought his swear jar. To a bar. From home, where you can set whatever boundaries you want, as opposed to a public place. Like a bar. Adorable."
"Well, it's really a restaurant. And we're trying to teach him that there's really no good reason to ever use bad language."
"Language isn't good or bad. It can't be. Language is just the words used to compose messages, like tools to build something. Those messages can be good or bad, regardless of the language you use."
"We'd like to teach him to use good tools." Never has the word 'good' sounded so condescending.
What a bunch of horseshit
Often, the things I say in my head are so much more entertaining and satisfying than what actually comes out of my mouth. Such as...
"Okay, fair enough. Here, Stephen? Is it Stephen? Okay Stephen, here's $10. I'd like to pay in advance because being put in a position of having to help raise you, even though you're not my kid, and in this case to instill what I feel are false ideals, makes me feel like unleashing a stream of naughty words that would curl your prepubescent nose hairs. If it were my responsibility to try to raise you to become a functioning, productive adult in modern society, one of the first lessons I'd teach you, right after the one about how you don't get to hang out in bars with adults, is that in real life nobody is going to give you anything every time they say or do something that you don't like. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner you'll be able to handle some of life's other not-so-nice fundamental truths. Just wait 'til you find out the real story behind "the birds and bees". But I guess your parents aren't interested in helping you grow up in a world that doesn't smell like unicorn farts and that means you'll probably have to get your delicate little feelings hurt in order to learn that lesson and eventually you'll resent them for not telling you what time it is. So in the meantime, take your little swear jar and cram that thing right up your pooper, sideways. And since I didn't use any of the traditionally recognized "dirty words", I'd like that $10 back first. Thanks."
So, no, I didn't say that last part. But I did stiff the little fucker on the .25.


Jeff Hickmott said...

Why, those motherscratching basketweavers.

Jessie said...

Who are you calling a cootie queen, you lint licker?

Erin Kane Spock said...

I teach. In class I insist the kids use 'polite language.' I also hold that there are no bad words, but there are vulgar ones that have no place in class room, even if they use them socially. I'd like my students to know the difference.
I'd like my own kids to know the difference -- but that's up to me as the parent, not whatever social environment they're in.
Fun post. Glad I found your blog.

Why, it's Clark! said...

Jeff and Jessie: Shocking.

Erin: I had not considered the perspective of professionals who DO have to raise other people's kids. Thank you for pointing that out and thank you for reading!

Renee said...

Here, here! You're killing me, smalls... Laughed my @&$# off. ; )