Potty Mouth

20 Dec

I really like the movie, “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” It’s a sweet movie starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell that follows the love stories of four (more?) couples. Some time ago, I suggested it as a good family movie to watch with my adult sibs, my mom and dad and my grandmother. Everyone was on board for watching the movie. It started and, within two minutes, my mother was so offended she had her arms crossed over her chest and her lips firmly set in a pinched, hard line.

I forgot that the first five minutes of dialogue consist of one word, the “F” word, repeated many times, in many variations, as Hugh Grant’s character realizes he’s overslept and is about to be very late for a friend’s wedding. I identified with the opening scene, finding it very real. My mom found it really distressing and immediately labeled the film, “Dirty.” I recall she glowered at me. I knew I was f . . .acing an angry mother.

My mother didn’t swear much. I swear a lot. Actually, I swear a lot less than I used to. Working in a preschool will do that to you. I have to admit to thinking it’s pretty funny when a four-year-old looks in her backpack and says, “Sh-t!” Her companion then says, “What’s wrong?” “I left my indoor shoes at home,” she says. But, being the roll model that I am, I have always said, “We don’t say those words in school. Can you think of a better word to use when you’re frustrated?”

My problem is that I can’t think of a better word to use when I’m frustrated. The “S” word is perfect for those times when you just want to kick yourself in the behind for doing something stupid, like forgetting your indoor shoes. It’s a short word, so you get it over and move on quickly. It has an opening sound that you can draw out as long as you want and then a completely satisfying final consonant. Indeed, a very useful word.

As much as she hated swearing, my mother wasn’t above using it herself. She had some creative constructions, but my clearest memory of her swearing was over a sewing project. She was making a dress for either my sister or me. There was a particularly difficult seam that was refusing to cooperate. She sewed it and tore it out at least three times. Finally, she got it right, only to discover she had sewn the garment to her own. What did she say? She said, “Shit!”

I would have said the “F” word. While I find the “S” word quite useful, the “F” word is my go-to word for extreme frustration and/or pain. Accidentally poking myself with a pin will get the “S” word out of me. Sewing something to my own clothing by mistake after trying to get the darn thing right for an hour? That’s going to get the “F” word out of me every time.

I’m also not likely to say “darn.” I use the “D” word, usually when referring to our cat, Oliver. Oliver is the worst cat who ever lived. Oliver wants only canned food and he wants it three times each day. If he does not get his canned food when he wants it, he breaks something. He has broken three teapots, numerous plates and bowls and all but two out of 12 coffee mugs. I call him, “the damn cat.”

I used to call him “the god-damned cat.” I stopped using “god damn” some time ago, realizing it could be offensive to some of my more religious friends who frown upon taking God’s name in vain. But, I’ve been rethinking my line of reasoning. I seem to recall learning that no one knows God’s name. If no one knows his name, then how can one take his name in vain? I’m not buying that God’s name is “God.” That’s like saying my dog’s name is “Dog.” If I found out that God’s name was “Fred,” then I could say “the Fred-damned cat” and my friends who worship Fred would be quite right in being offended.

My father believes that he knows God’s name. He told me, “It’s Harold.” “Harold?” I said. “Yes, you know, ‘Harold be thy name’.” “It’s ‘hallowed’, Dad,” I said. He was not deterred. Nothing, I have found, can keep a dad from making a Dad Joke. Having failed with Hallowed Harold, my dad said, “His middle name is ‘Andy’.” Almost afraid to ask, I said, “How’s that, Dad?” My dad began singing, “And he walks with me . . .”

Naturally, my children have used swear words and it is invariably blamed on me. My husband claims not to swear. I know he does, but I do it more, so he hides behind my foul mouth. The impact of my potty mouth was brought home to me in a stop at McDonald’s. It was summer. I was in the drive thru, unhappily waiting for a Happy Meal. My then four-year-old son had gotten wise to my “McDonald’s is closed” ploy. The food was not ready, so I was told to pull ahead and wait. First, however, I let the little old lady cross in front of my car to her own. The guy in the car behind me laid on his horn. I, ever mature as we know, shouted out my window, “What should I do, run her over?” He, even more mature than I, said, “Yeah!” to which I said, “Oh, go f— yourself.” From the back seat, my son added, “Yeah, you go f— your goat.” How he knew the man had a goat, I will never know.

Since then, I have tried to curb my evil ways, but tell my children that certain words are “adult” words and that, when they are adults, they can choose to use them. My son, almost an adult now, practices on an hourly basis, throwing in some really disgusting phrases that, while they contain no profanity, are, well, really disgusting. I have learned to ignore him.

My daughter brought me up short the other day when she asked, “Mommy, are you a pussy?” I choked back my immediate response and said, “Oh, dear, you must never use that word” and explained why. The first thing that came to my mind, though, was, “Hell, no! Mommy is hard core!”

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One Response to “Potty Mouth”

  1. Gina January 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I’ve been desperately trying to clean up my potty mouth! It’s slow going!

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