I was recently in a meeting, with fifty or sixty of my co-workers, and the guy running it was having trouble keeping things under control. There was a lot of murmuring, and people just flat-out talking. After a while, it sounded like a middle school cafeteria in there.
The main guy was carrying on a conversation with a few specific people, about a piece of equipment called “the loader.” And half of the uninvolved parties were chatting and laughing and causing all manner of racket. I didn’t have anything in it, it was none of my business, but I felt a strong urge to yell, “Yo, listen up!”
But that never happened, and the noise continued until there was one of those weird instances when – for no known reason – everything just suddenly goes quiet. And at that moment, when the murmuring and talking ceased, only one person continued. And he said, “Loader? I hardly even knew her!”
There was a half second of silence, before everyone busted out laughing. And the person who’d made the remark turned fire engine red. Maybe it was because it happened at 1 am, and I was starting to go goofy with fatigue, but I thought that shit was hilarious.
This is my one day off of the week, and tonight we’re going to celebrate the first two of three November birthdays at our house. Toney and the younger boy had birthdays earlier in the week, so we’re going out to dinner. The Secret wants to dismantle crustaceans, so we’ll probably go to Ret Lopster. Where they serve up one heck of a New York Strip steak, by the way… Go figure.
One of the gifts the youngling received was the Black Ops video game everybody’s talking about. And Toney said the moment he put the disc into the player, the word “fuck” came flying out of the speakers. She was on her computer, right around the corner, and said it sounded like an episode of Deadwood in here. Good clean wholesome fun for a twelve year old… It makes me feel so proud.
When I was his age, maybe slightly older, we had HBO at our house. It was a new service, and seemed wildly exotic. One night we all gathered ‘round the tube to watch a movie I can’t now remember. It was an action film of some sort, possibly having to do with nuclear missiles. I’m having trouble calling up the exact information…
In any case, we were about thirty minutes into it, and the profanity was starting to pile up. It felt like every sentence featured two or three high-octane cuss words, not just damn and hell. Or even shit. No, this was the language of construction workers or longshoremen or (as it turned out) record executives.
It was very awkward, like one endless tampon commercial, and I just stared straight ahead with no expression on my face. Finally, my mother turned off the TV and said we weren’t watching such filth. And the next day she canceled HBO, altogether.
And that really sucked, because everybody buzzed about HBO in those days. Now I was on the outside looking in, and reduced to secretly tuning to the scrambled channel and listening to banned movies and stand-up routines, without actually being able to see them. And how sad is that? It was my own personal ‘Nam.
My mother also flew off the handle once about the language on the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album. She came into my room while I was playing it one day, as John let-loose a cuppa two tree fucks, and I was afraid she might rip the album off the turntable and fling it into the Kanawha River. But she just voiced her disapproval, and left it at that.
My parents aren’t Quakers, but they didn’t (and don’t) go around talking like record executives. And they don’t want that “filth” in their house.
Toney and I don’t go around swearing all the time, either. And it makes me a little uncomfortable to hear the f-word in our family room, with our kids sitting there. But, clearly, it doesn’t bother me that much. ‘Cause we keep buying them $65 software bundles for their Sony ProfaniStation.
Heh. We should probably make sure they only play their car racing games when my folks are here for Thanksgiving…
Were your parents strict/uptight about language while you were growing up? Can you remember any especially uncomfortable episodes along those lines? Please tell us about it in the comments.
And what are your thoughts on all those commercials about “freshness?” Man, you could’ve heard a pin drop at our house…
Yeah, it’s a loosely defined Question, but I’m struggling here. Do with it what you will.
And I’ll be back tomorrow.