Friday, September 21, 2007

Post suggested by another's post

RT, of Untwisted Vortex, laments the needless inclusion of profanity in blogs he's reading. He makes an "open plea for all writers to examine their work and see if something can be written a little less offensively. You do, after all, want me to read your writings, right?"

(If a profane comeback flitted across your synapses just now, you are only human. And a smart-aleck. If you refrained from vocalizing it, there's hope for you yet.)

Anyway, RT's post got me thinking -- the coarse language that the young people use today -- my own children, for example -- and not just in conversation when they think no elders are about -- often in writing in their IM's. These can be printed out and exhibited against them whenever a participant in an IM conversation wants to. It can get very ugly very fast.

So, yes, I was wrapping the cloak of self-righteousness firmly about me -- how I'd never used such language when I was young, etc., etc.... and then I began to remember....

*shimmer * shimmer * shimmer*

(Yes, that's taking us into a flashback....)

My poor father was teaching me to drive. I had driver's ed in school, but the cars there had automatic transmissions; the car I would be permitted to drive (on rare occasions) had a clutch -- a three-on-the-tree transmission. And, besides, the driver's ed teachers -- if there were both boys and girls assigned to the same car -- well, let's just say this was the era of miniskirts and the instructors felt it was necessary to keep the girls in the front seat practicing for as long as possible. And, when I say they felt it was necessary, I mean they felt....

Hmmmmmm. How to explain, delicately? Well, Long Suffering Spouse -- who attended an entirely different high school from me and a number of years later -- said that the smarter girls quickly figured out it was best to wear pants for driver's ed.

If that doesn't help, ask your mom.

Anyway, my father felt I needed the practice, and I did. Fortunately, we lived way out in the sticks so there were plenty of places where I could learn to stop, going uphill at a stop sign, and start up again without rolling back into anyone else's bumper.

My father claimed that both I and my sister burned out a clutch in the course of our driver training.

But in addition to rolling backwards, and stalling out the car by popping the clutch too quickly without applying the gas, my father decided I should learn how to enter a limited access highway.

My father was no fool.

He wasn't going to take me on a City expressway; that would be too far away anyway.

But there was one cloverleaf in the vicinity going from a two lane State highway to a four lane Federal route -- and it was to this location that my father directed me one morning.

I barreled down the ramp without any difficulty (going fast is really not a problem for teenage boys, is it?) but there was, I noticed, a car already on the highway below, matching course and speed as I prepared to merge.

Indeed, for a moment it looked as if I was about to merge right into him.

At that moment, forgetting entirely who was sitting beside me, I let loose with a string of invective that would do any modern teenager proud. I'm sure it wouldn't have brought the slightest blush to a career noncom, but it was blue enough.

And, as I slowed in time to safely merge behind the car that had been blocking my entrance onto the highway, I remembered that my father was in fact present.

I snuck a glance his way.

He was regarding me, as I have since learned fathers often do, with a calculating look, trying to decide how best to respond in the circumstances.

You have to understand that my father was not one of those Ward Cleaver types. He could go from calm to furious in a nanosecond and he had the kind of booming voice that could focus entirely on the object of his anger. On the other hand, since I was driving, I did sort of have both our lives in my hands....

I braced for the verbal impact -- which I knew I deserved. But my father only said, "I didn't know you knew all those words." He paused, thinking, I presume, that he should add something else. What should he say, though? Sternly admonish me against any further uncontrolled bursts of Anglo-Saxon epithets? "You did use all the words correctly," he said.

And that was that.

So I guess maybe I can't get too smug about my own non-use of profanity in my younger days....


sari said...

That brought me a chuckle!

I remember the first time I heard my now nine year old proclaim "What the h*ll!" I realized I needed to curb it in even though that's about as bad as I've ever said in front of him. (Though, once, I was cut off by a bus and let loose with a choice phrase I wouldn't want him to hear for another 10 years. Luckily he was sleeping in his car seat, I was saved that time).

I feel like you do - whether I do or don't swear (in my head) I prefer not to read it on people's blogs. It always seems to be to be that they're just swearing because they *can*, not because they *need* to. Kind of like people who are overly rude or explicit in conversation just to get a reaction.

I don't know. I'm not really explaning my feeling well, but I just don't think it's necessary.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i try not to swear. i swear i do. and i am usually successful too! but sometimes something will really p*** me off! sorry.

smiles, bee


Cliff said...

I feel pretty much the same way. I have the vocabulary that I am able to avoid using such words.

I have no problem expressing myself in a manner that's not profane.

And I also have no problem taking down one of my posts if someone points out to me that it may contain objectionable content.

katherine. said...

I have an awful mouth. But more out of laziness...cause when I am really angry I do not swear.

this reminds me of a story I could write a little post about...hmmmm

Linda said...

This one had me laughing at loud - you depicted it so very well! I might have to use this as a jumping off post for a post of my own on a similar incident involving my father and a golf course!

As for people swearing on their blogs, I can think of one in particular that I steer a wide path away from because her language makes the sailors down at the local Sub Base sound very, very tame. And she used it regarding her children ... it's appalling.

Ralph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

I remember when I started to learn to drive (a 4-speed VW), my father was a nervous nelly, but he didn't get profane. Probably just wanted to just get this driving session over with, and relax with a Carling Black Label...

As for profanity, when I was young and somebody used the 'eff' word, it was electric. The effect was immediate. Nowadays, if anyone uses that word for effect, well, they are idiots. The more you use that word, the stupider you sound. Can you imagine the Bard using that word for effect? How could you read his prose and really enjoy it ever again?