Swearing is a Gateway Drug

Calling from The Son’s baseball game, my sister left a message on my cell phone: “Yeah, hey.  So, I’m here, waiting for H to go up.  I think it’s 6-1.  There he is.  Wait.  I’m going to the car to change into jeans.  It’s colder than a witch’s t!@#$t.”

This is my family.  I should say her earlier message was this: “I’m going after work.  But what is he playing?”  I love my sister because she will support you, in any situation, regardless of her expertise...or lack thereof.  And she gave my kid twenty bucks through the dugout fence, just because.  She also wore 5 inch heels and possibly a red leather jacket.  She is 62 years old.  And she looked hot.  A friend remarked she looked “too classy” for the game.  If only he knew.

I was raised by benevolent sailors.  And by sailors I mean those who swear and are always willing to dance (and maybe fight).  I’m ashamed to admit I swear, but I try not to do so around my children.  Often, I fail.  And now they are sneaking in the swear words.  Of course, we’re not Jersey TV folk; we don’t sling profanity at each other and we’re polite and respectful to most people to whom we’re not related.   It’s really a lot of muttering and frustrated venting, and we correct them, of course.  But it’s a bit like our efforts to teach them how to properly use knives and how to blow their noses: poorly executed and eventually filed away under “Let’s just move on.”

Translation: "Do your homework. Now."

I finished The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje.  Loved it.  I had scant hope for my ability to finish it and like it, as it can be considered serious literature.  I was worried I lacked the discipline to appreciate it, so taken am I with all things Jason Bourne-ish and/or realistic teen fiction.  Also, it’s the first thing I’ve read on my Kindle and the whole percentage thing Drives.  Me.  Bonkers.  I also like looking at pictures of the author on the back flap and making rash judgements.  And I usually need to read the front flap to remind myself of what I’m reading or where the plot may be heading.  I am a cheater, I know.  It is a bit unnerving to occasionally see your own reflection, too.  That workable angle was hard to manage.  See?  These issues just don’t come up with paper pages.

Anyway, the book has scruffy boys on a ship bound for Arabia, who are spying on criminals, surviving a bone-crushing storm, dabbling in danger with unsavory strangers, and meeting curious people whose words they will remember until old age.  I really wanted to hide in the ship’s storage locker with them, risking discovery and shame from the pearl-encrusted crowd in deck chairs.  And perhaps because this has been on my mind, I was lamenting the days when adults left kids alone to get dirty, steal food and basically just be ruffians.  There is a magical structure to this tale; it’s a difficult task for writers.  I haven’t read anything by Ondaatje since The English Patient and I was captivated.  I may overcome my swearing habit, too, because after reading this my diction has improved.  Now if only my sister would give me twenty bucks.

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~ by alicetownsend on March 7, 2012.

2 Responses to “Swearing is a Gateway Drug”

  1. If swearing is a gateway drug, then I am an addict.

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