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/
We all have those moments when we wish the earth would split open and swallow us up. There are situations that happened decades ago that still make me cringe when I think of them. Like Scarlett O'Hara, I used to be pretty good at throwing those thoughts off whenever they surfaced: "I can't think about that right now." But for some reason I seem to have lost the knack and will repeatedly kick myself over some silly mistake. Maybe it has something to do with the perception that as we age, we are supposed to become more dignified, not less so.
My latest awkward moment happened at the last tailgate of the 2012 Aggie football season. A young couple that is a part of our crowd was soon to be married, and I mistook a man who tailgates with us occasionally for the bride's father. In my defense, this man has the same first name as the bride's father, David. Both men look a bit alike. Also, the bride's uncle had just finished telling me a rather convoluted story involving his brother --- you guessed it --- the bride's father. So when I saw this familiar-looking man, my brain, awash in images of the bride's father due to the aforementioned story, said, "There's David." Unfortunately, my brain failed to take that identification one step further to add, "And before you go and make a complete ass of yourself, this is the groom's boss David, not the bride's father David." Stupid brain.
Anyways, I went over to this man who I believed to be the bride's father, and in front of his wife, real daughter, daughter's boyfriend, and several other people I hope to never see again, complimented him on his lovely daughter, the bride-to-be, and how impressed I was that she was so prompt with her thank you notes. Almost as soon as the words came out, I realized I had boo-boo'ed big time, but there was just no fixing this. Wrong David babbled something in return, I have no idea what because my brain had vapor-locked from embarrassment. Squelching the urge to run, I removed myself from the group in as dignified a manner as possible, and for the remainder of the tailgate, until it was time to leave for the game, I stayed as far away from Wrong David and his family as I could without actually mingling with the crowd the next tent over.
Now, I realize that in the scope of awkward moments, this one barely rates a 3 on a scale of 1 - 10, with 10 being so supremely awkward that leaving town permanently and starting over someplace far, far away is the only possible recourse. But instead of pushing that small blunder away from me, I just wouldn't let it go. And I think the reason for that was because I knew I would be seeing these people again at the wedding the following week.
The afternoon of the wedding, we were invited to relax over drinks with the bride's family. This time, the REAL David, the bride's father, was there.
BRAIN: Here's the real David.
ME: I don't trust you.
BRAIN: I promise, this is the REAL David.
ME: Still don't trust you.
BRAIN: Would I lie to you?
The sad thing is I knew this was not going to be another case of mistaken identity, that I was safe here. But I was so scarred from the experience of a week ago, that I didn't trust myself to say anything beyond a very generic "hello". Richard sat next to me, charming and chatty, while I huddled like a bump on a log, afraid to open my mouth for fear I'd humiliate myself all over again.
On the upside, the wife of Wrong David hailed me as I walked by during the cocktail hour preceding the reception. We chatted briefly and I managed not to insert my foot in my mouth, despite being on my second glass of wine. Just the fact that I was able to show her that I am not always an amiable fathead made me feel better.
The wedding, by the way, was a gorgeous affair, as was the reception. And there's an idea for another blog. Stay tuned!
Facepalm meme: http://danawesome.netau.net/images/Female%20Blonde.html
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