Saturday, February 06, 2010

When I learned to curse...***with added cursing fun***

Dear Sailors all over the world,

You have been given the status as the worst cuss-ers ever, so I address this letter to you, hoping you may find it an interesting break from the monotony of your ocean voyages.

So, we all know the scene from a Christmas Story, the one where Ralphie is helping his dad change the tire and something happens and he lets out the F-bomb (nicely disguised as FUDGE!) loud and clear for all to hear. And when his mom asks where he learned such a word, but he can't give the obvious truth that his dad swears like a sailor all the time. So he blames it on a friend.

So I was listening to an interview about a new book called the Hidden Brain today, and I don't know why but it got me thinking about when I learned curse words. I don't mean learned how to curse. That, obviously, happened at the dinner table when I had immunity. But I mean learned what curse words meant.

I find this interesting (and understandably you may not) because it seems that I had some pretty strong emotional responses to these words, or else how could I remember these scenes so clearly?

The first scene is when I learned what the D-word means. I remember being probably 8 or 10 and being in our kitchen. My dad and Aunt Dee were sitting around making jokes about the "dam road", literally talking about a road that runs by a dam. And I couldn't understand what was so funny (well, it wasn't actually that funny, but a lot of laughing happens when DeGeorges get together). So I remember asking "What does that MEAN?" and finally my Aunt leaned over and whispered in my ear "it means being sent to Hell." Enough said for me. But the thing that is so wild is how I can still almost feel the breath as she whispered in my ear. The memory is just that clear.

When I was working as an intern with a psychologist, she told me the story of a woman who had extreme difficulty talking. She stuttered and could not clearly say words.
Except for swear words. She almost had tourettes, but when she would start swearing, she did not stop or stutter as she usually did, but could go on clearly with no problems. But why, I want to know. What is the difference with those words. They mean the same thing as many other words, so what gives?

It makes me think about the Sh word. I mean, what is the difference between these words? (Note, as you can tell by how I type, I am SPELLING here, so this is allowable...) S-H-I-T, C-R-A-P, P-O-O-P...I mean they all have 4 letters and mean the same thing. So what is the emotional difference of the first?

So here is what my brother said about curse words in our family...As I said before, spelling is OK, and quoting is OK, too.

So now for a biggie. The F-bomb. I don't actually remember this one, but I have been told it so many times that it is part of my history. Just imagine your young kindergartner riding in the back seat. And you hear her using her phonics skills

newly learned in school. eff---uhhh---kkkk. YEa, don't sound that out loud!! First the sounds are separate and slow, then, as the child grows in confidence, they are slurred together to form the word. And then it is proudly repeated with confidence. I can just imagine my mother going, "No no, honey no, we don't say THAT word. But good reading!"

I do remember, however, asking my dad what the F-word means. We were out at the barn dealing with the animals and he turned toward the rabbit cages. "Remember", he said "when we saw those rabbits trying to make baby rabbits?" "Yea, dad, I remember". "Well honey, that was what the F-word is."

Do parents mess with kids minds on purpose or what? But really, that was sufficient. Between that and Websters dictionary, I got it. Thank you Webster, for your clear concise definitions! After that experience I stuck to Noah for further definition needs. But you know, thank goodness I had the book and not the online dictionary, because who knows what would have come up!

Sucks, which used to be a curse word, but apparently isn't anymore, was written on a sign near my school. The graffiti said "School Sucks". I got that one without any explanation!

I could go on about when I learned the word bitch and proceeded to go to school the next day saying to other kids and telling them it was not bad because it's just a word for female dog, but I think I should stop here and do some real research about this phenomenon. And maybe I will read the Hidden Brain too. Any interesting stories about how you learned how to cuss?


CaDh 8

PS. I almost forgot to tell a story of my first use of the word "Ass". Now, I must say that ass is a word that I learned early... "The ox and ass kept time, pah rum pum pum pum..." One of those duel purpose words that you learn once and then you learn again. They are confusing words to children. But I was truly an innocent child and really did keep my mind fairly clean for about as long as it is possible. So one day our teachers at school told us that we were not to call each other "inanimate objects". Yes, it sounds silly, but anyone who remembers junior high and has any imagination can see how some fairly good teasing (we'd probably call it bullying today) could be done and hidden by using code words of common classroom items. So apparently this was going on. Of course, as soon as we were told NOT to do this, we went onto the play ground at recess and started calling each other every name in the book. Think of a play ground..."You kick ball!" "You shoe!" "You lunch box!" "You asphalt!!!"...I think the whole playground got quiet after that left my mouth. But I was clueless. I didn't even know what I said. The recess monitor came and got me and told me I was in big trouble. Why? I mean, yea we were doing something we had been told not to, but why just me? Thinking back it is kind of funny that that woman had to tell my father (the principle) what I had said, and was more embarassed to tell it than I was! I really innocently thought that my dad would understand that I would NEVER intend such a double meaning, but that I was just using the proper term for the pavement we were standing on!
Well, I don't know if my dad believed me. I would not have. But the worst behaved boy in class did come to my defense and told him I would never do such a thing. I thought that was pretty cool. Now it is a standing joke in the family and it is always OK to call someone an asphalt!!


brd said...

Such good memories. I must comment more later!!!

brd said...

Cadh8. You must now tell the asphalt story!

When I spoke with your father about this post, he demanded the inclusion of asphalt!

Cursing, says your father, is an artform. Not just anyone can curse properly. He insists that my attempts are feeble and lame. I do not have the right rhythm for it, which is, always, learned in childhood and cannot be conjured up at the last minute in adulthood. His father, he declares, was masterful, especially in Italian. The words poured out like a beautiful music with grace. Andante, largo, allegretto, and with perfect harmony.

I fear, no matter how you try. You will never be able to curse with that level of expertise.

Sorry. I suppose it's my fault.

cadh 8 said...

I added a PS for you. Now my post is complete! Did you like my school sucks graphic? I thought that fit well! :)

matt crutchfield said...

Awesome post. I laughed the entire way through. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you, but I know your parents, and this completely made my day.

I think the only word I learned phonetically before the meaning was the F word (It's a lot easier to explain the 'lesser' of the evils. "another word for your butt" was a famous ass-planation.)

The F-word was given to me as a naive adolescent by a mischievous older boy in our school. It involved a word game where "Alpha Q. Up" was introduced at a sllooooww pace and sped up to form a naughty phrase.

I was first excited at being worthy of the older boy's attention, but what I thought was some secret phrase that would grant me ultimate coolness was really a fast way to the bad place.

Did I pass it on? Probably.

Thanks for the entertainment. The pictures made it especially classic. Who knew the level of scandalous behavior inside that innocent, bunny mind....

cadh 8 said...

Glad you enjoyed it Matt. Your response made me laugh too and reminded me of a story that is not as much mine but goes with the theme. On the time line for me it falls somewhere between the phonics and therabbits.We were with some older kids (those naughty older kids!) and they thought it would be fun to play a rhyming game. They wanted my sister to say words that rhyme with luck. And start with an f. Of course my sister is smart and quick and yelled out the answer. Go sis. Then the older kids proceeded to go tell on her for saying that word! We were both so confused. I remember getting older and learning the f-word and going "ohhhhh that is what they made her say!!"

brd said...

What one doesn't know about the experiences of one's children.

I love the graphic work on the school crossing sign!

Matt, sounds like your boyhood claims similar events. Oh, dear. What our society does to our poor little ones.