I can swear. It’s not nice or pretty or necessarily called for, but in the heat of the moment I can drop a truck load of locked up bile that would rouse disappointed looks from a long line of long dead ancestors followed by a heated debate on exactly whose side of the family was at fault. Clean up the stream of unnecessary adjectives from one of my tirades and you’ll uncover a stream of insults tailored to point out every flaw, each one punctuated by a bit of spittle and ideally designed to send the victim scurrying for apologetic cover. Not me at my best, but a throwback to a time when I was bullied and learned that if the quiet orchestra girl unlocked this vitriolic spray, especially under her breath, people would back up. For example, the kids who told me if I rode the bus again they would kill me. In my defense, I needed to continue to ride the bus. I liked school.
Thankfully, I’m a “happy” person for the most part. The kind of person people drop by and say, “hey, I just needed to see that smile.” And also thankfully, my Mother taught me both manners and restraint (and how to sit up straight and chew with my mouth closed among many other useful party tricks). This keeps me in check and allows me to say “golly” and “good grief” in polite company (polite company being family, children and overly sensitive pets of the toy variety – let’s face it, a Mastiff isn’t going to blush at a misplaced f-bomb).
Where I’m Going With This
Saturday rolls around and I’m with a sketch writing gang, sitting around a table and doing table reads in a very public location. The first sketch out of the gate is a dream letter to a horrible parent written from the point of view of a very dignified school teacher who has finally reached her wits end. The letter was sprinkled with all the things you should never write in a letter from a teacher to a student’s parent unless your intent was to embark on a career of living off the good will of others. It really needed more, though. It needed to go to the proverbial “there” to heighten the humor. You see, the writer was a little restrained because she really works in this field and for the most part isn’t the sort that will go for the jugular. This is not to imply that she doesn’t get mad at times, I’m sure she does, but it’s framed in a more constructive light. She’s not the type to level relationships with a wrecking ball of rage filled contempt. That’s when I jokingly offered to help.
“Would you like me to teach you how to swear?”
She looked up hopefully and I swear the sun framed her with a little halo as the part of me that is my Mother whispered, “Yes, darling. Please regale us with that infamous mouth of yours. ” My throat became dry and my eyes darted around. There were children. They had balloons (I’m not kidding, they were handing out balloons). We were near a playscape. Lovely people surrounded us who were enjoying a beautiful day chatting with their equally lovely friends. “Go on, Beth. Let out that angry 14 year old.” I sputtered, “you could say uhhhh…” I blinked and stared as my mouth moved wordlessly up and down. Finally, another sketch writer came to the rescue and she offered up, “call the parent a c@#7”. OH MY! You can’t say the “c” word. That’s a no-no word. I looked around nervously to see if anyone else had heard. I was sure parents were fainting around us. Children were being grabbed up to begin what would turn into years of therapy. Of all the words, that’s a forbidden word – the word only the raciest of women say when they’re in one of those places I don’t frequent – like a gym or a wine bar (I kid, I’m sure they say much worse there).
Her eagerness to learn stunned me into actual silence and my well honed abilities were temporarily (and thankfully) castrated by the idea of unlocking a bit of my ugliness and sharing it. “Look at that face. Look at the halo. She’s an innocent. You can’t just swear at her. Why not go out and kill goodness while you’re at it, Potty Princess?” It occurred to me then that while swearing is one of my many skills that can never be formally listed on my résumé, it’s not something I can (nor should) pass along. So, I’m here to tell you that I will not be offering up a Swearing 101 class any time soon. You’ll just have to hang out at a gym or wine bar.