pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

On Swearing

When I was in high school, people in general DID NOT know/use that word. We felt riské if we said "RAPE". The first time my boyfriend said it, I heard "rake", which did NOT make sense. I knew a person who was called a rake, but I was SURE HE DID NOT. It was literary, and he wasn't...

I got clear through a church college without ever hearing the word. Then I began teaching at the State Juvenile Home in Toledo, Iowa. Those kids had HEARD ALL THE WORDS. When the neat kids in my speech class figured out that I did not recognize BTB as something I had to discipline/report ("Hey, Miss H., someone wrote BTB in my book!"

Me: In pencil or in ink?
Student: Pencil.
Me: Here's an eraser. I don't think you need to interrupt the whole class when you KNOW you can borrow one at any time.)

So, they talked it over among themselves, and the boldest one began staying after class (on his LUNCH HOUR, no less) to set me straight in private.

I learned to SKIP the poem "There is no frigate like a ship..." no matter how much I told them that was the name of a type of sailing ship...

Even if it IS Shakespeare, you don't read passages about the "red light district" in public schools.

Nine years later, when I switched to a public school, mores had greatly degenerated, and the F words (NOT "farm", even though it was a rural community), despite the resident's best efforts, I still was not totally up to speed.

I was in charge of the school newspaper, published weekly in the local paper, and the school yearbook.

There, the PRINCIPAL expressed total outrage when I allowed one senior spotlight to contain the line "spends his weekends kissing the pavement."


One traditional feature of the yearbook was photos of the seniors as youngsters, complete with witty comments.

One staff member was beautiful, bright, and athletic. This made her very popular with males, but really brought out the claws of the females. She turned in a lovely photo of her with new front teeth, smiling at the camera while her white kitten walked across her shoulders behind her head.

One diligent staff member dutifully inquired, "Is this caption okay?"

I looked: Me and my pussy. "Okay. She's got a kitten on her shoulders."

Eyebrows went up, but that was it...

Until the NEXT YEAR, when said principal, in utter frustration, shouted: EVERYBODY

Well, I really LIKED the girl who was so maligned. I went to her and apologized. She was fine with it, as she KNEW I had no clue. After talking with both of them, I still DID NOT know the exact nature of my blunder. Relating the incident to the wife of the arch rival school's superintendent, who happened to be our librarian at that time, she told me EXACTLY what it meant.

I was horrified! I was totally inadequate as a censor when it dealt with what "everybody" knows in an area where I was not raised in the same manner as "everybody".

Here's a quote from a letter my mother sent to me last year:

Well, I can't put my hands on it now, even though I had it less than an hour ago! I have to get out the door to school, so will finish up tomorrow...

  • Blessed

    Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.

  • Irony

    The irony of life is that, by the time you're old enough to know your way around, you're not going anywhere.

  • Why?

    God made man before woman so as to give him time to think of an answer for her first question.

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