Vulgar (adj): 1. deficient in taste, delicacy and refinement; 2. marked by a lack of good breeding.
My mother is a very proper lady. "Damn" is the extent of her vulgar vocabulary. It is only ever used under extreme duress, and even then, you can see how much effort it takes for the word to squirm its way past her internal filters and out into the air. My father wasn't nearly so selective, but he did save his most peppery speech for those occasions when he was truly good and mad. For example, during one of Atlanta's rare winter storms, Daddy, who took the bus to and from work, gamely fought his way from the bus stop all the way up the icy incline of our street, and up the dozen or so steps leading to our front door --- all without mishap --- only to slip and fall on the very last step. Mom recalled that the language he used would have made a sailor blush.
Being a girl, I was expected to follow my mother's example and never cuss. I remember when I was 10 years old saying "darn it" in front of Mom and my dad made me apologize for my lack of civility. And on one memorable occasion, I actually dropped an F-bomb in front of the 'rents. I was in college when that happened. A former neighbor from many years ago was in town on business, and he invited my parents and me to meet him for dinner (read big, fat expense account). Afterwards, Daddy asked me to drive home. Not being familiar with the area, I decided to retrace our original route. Usually, this strategy works pretty well, except in this instance one of the streets was a one-way street and when I made a right turn onto that street, I was suddenly facing four lanes of heavy traffic. I said the only thing one can say when contemplating the prospect of a very messy death, "Oh, f---!" It was not the long drawn out "fudddddddddddgggkkk..." Ralphie made famous in A Christmas Story, you know, the kind that can go either way. My expletive was loud and decisive. A nice flatulent PHHHHH followed by a crisply enunciated K.
Fortunately, God provided a shopping center right when and where I needed one, and I was able to claim the safety of the parking lot well before things reached critical mass. As I sat there trying to will my heart back into my chest from my throat, where it had taken refuge, I couldn't help but notice the profound silence in the car. Nobody said a word and I decided against apologizing on the very small off-chance that my parents had been too absorbed in watching their lives flash before their eyes to register my slip of the tongue.
As I said, my mother is very proper. I always have to vet anything I say to avoid offending her, and I am envious of friends who have a much more easy going give-and-take with their moms. When I became a mother, I made the decision that I wasn't going to raise my kids to be Nervous Nellies around me (tho' they may dispute that, I don't know). I wanted them to feel comfortable saying whatever came to mind. I may have succeeded a little too well in this endeavor, for Richard will occasionally wince and say, "I can't imagine in what universe I would have said that in my mother's presence." Oh, well.
Not being in much of a Christmas mood with our second child forced to spend his holidays in a hostile Muslim country, Richard and I took the other two to New Orleans for a little getaway. We wandered up and down Bourbon Street which, as anyone familiar with the French Quarter knows, is nothing but a giant souvenir stand. Mitch pointed out a tee shirt that read:
We both had a good laugh, but I couldn't help but think that if I had seen this shirt at the age of 26 with my mother, I would have died of embarrassment. (On a related side note: in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, many people of young children were outraged that the topic of oral sex was getting such huge play on the news shows and in print. How does one get around explaining that business to kids who innocently ask? One man, however, had a slightly different problem. He was riled because it was his 85-year-old mother who wanted to know!) Still, tho', I was a bit taken aback when my daughter bought for her college roommates, several strings of Mardi Gras beads, each with a cartoonish penis dangling from it. They went well with her matched set of plastic Hand Grenade glassware:
What's that definition again? A marked lack of taste and good breeding? Call me delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.
Not a delicate flower,
Tee shirt: http://www.flickr.com/photos/treyjp/126811788/
Box sign: http://randeeandcompany.com/home-decor/accents-decor/box-sign-swearing.html
Hand Grenades: http://thesimplifiers.com/cocktail-friday-hand-grenade/
Get notified of new content! Enter your email address in the space below to get started...