This is a lesson I missed a few decades ago maybe. Having grown up in a household where neither alcohol nor swearing was allowed, I didn’t learn how to do either activity well. I may have perfected both by now, or not. Meeting my father-in-law for the first time, I noticed how little he swore. I can remember his saying ‘damn’ once – referring to me as a ‘god damn intellectual’. No one before or since has described me that way. Of course, I loved my father-in-law for the rest of his days.
As one hears almost daily, ‘It’s a whole new world out there.’ Being ‘affluent’ like everyone else we know, we watch cable TV from time to time – well, most evenings. I believe they insist on a certain amount of profanity with each series. Mostly it’s the F-word, but there are other ‘naughty’ words interspersed here and there – it’s surprising any real dialogue takes place. No need for dialogue, I guess, when mostly a bedroom set is used. I feel like a voyeur, so that may be what I’m cultivating – voyeurism. Yikes!
I’ve noticed with the current tele-novella that there’s precious little dialogue going on with the exception of the profane expletives. Various facial expressions take over, or long beseeching looks go on – and on. I guess the actors don’t have to learn many lines – but they’ve got to be athletic and supple in bed and able to cuss.
Anyhow, David Sedaris has a funny bit about characters in line at an airport. Actually, it’s very funny. The kid ahead of him in line (obviously a new teenage father, with dreadlocks) has Motha Fokka printed on his t-shirt. Yes, it sounds like you-know-what, but someone can’t spell too well.
Listening to this bit in route to Christmas dinner with the family, I still had the words on my mind after arrival. So, I used them in some appropriate place or another which I’ve now forgotten. My 17-year-old grandson appreciated me more for a moment, but my own kids and daughters-in-law were shocked – at least it looked like that to me. Like a child who gets attention, I managed to use the words several more times during the day. (Call it a disadvantaged childhood or something!)
Like a child (once again), I slipped something terrible into our once-every-five-years New Year’s Day brunch. At our urging, friends brought their three-and-a-half year-old granddaughter along. She was present at the table when I exclaimed, ‘Holy shit!’ Don’t remember the context of that one either. Our guests’ mouths dropped – of course they didn’t know what to say. Our youngest guest laughed out loud – she knew full well that was a word she couldn’t use. She didn’t let it go at that. She kept looking at me and giggling just like you’d expect a three-and-a-half year-old kid to do.
That’s probably the last time her grandparents will let little Alice in the door. I’m still embarrassed about the whole thing. After all, I managed to raise our children (which took several years and sometimes still goes on) without cussing. What’s with this advanced age business? Am I letting it all hang out as some folks with dementia seem to do?
Alice’s grandparents told me yesterday (after I had apologized profusely for my indiscretion) that the subject under discussion that night at dinner after having eaten brunch here on New Year’s Day was ‘buggers’. To eat or not to eat?
I have no more to say. I’m going to overcome my transgressions in the New Year. Holy shit! Which is worse? Eating buggers or proclaiming shit? I’ll stop both. What a new year’s resolution!
Sandra Brian Lore had a typical small-town and suburban life outside Chicago until she was given the chance to discover the larger world accompanying her husband Mark abroad where they lived on four continents during their 32 years in the US Foreign Service. Born and raised in Illinois, she studied at Northwestern University and graduated from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1962. She and her husband have retired in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where she writes, fiddles Irish music and volunteers for various good causes.