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This is a lesson missed a few decades ago maybe. Having grown up in a household where neither alcohol nor swearing was allowed, I didn’t learn how to do either activity well. I may have perfected both by now, or not. Meeting my father-in-law for the first time, I noticed how little he swore. I can remember his saying “damn” once — referring to me as a “god damn intellectual.” No one before or since has described me that way. Of course, I loved my father-in-law for the rest of his days.

As one hears almost daily, “It’s a whole new world out there.” Being “affluent” like everyone else we know, we watch cable TV from time to time, well most evenings. I believe they insist on a certain amount of profanity with each series.  

Mostly it’s the F word, but there are other “naughty” words interspersed here and there — it’s surprising any real dialogue takes place. No need for dialogue, I guess, when mostly a bedroom set is used. I feel like a voyeur, so that may be what I’m cultivating — voyeurism. Yikes! 

I’ve noticed with the current tele-novella that there’s precious little dialogue going on with the exception of the profane expletives. Various facial expressions take over, or long beseeching looks go on — and on. Guess the actors don’t have to learn many lines — but they’ve got to be athletic and supple in bed and able to cuss.

Anyhow, David Sedaris has a funny bit about characters in line at an airport. Actually, it’s very funny. The kid ahead of him in line (obviously a new, teenage father with dread locks) has “Motha Fokka” printed on his t-shirt. Yes, it sounds like you-know-what, but someone can’t spell too well.  

Listening to this bit in route to Christmas dinner with the family, I still had the words on my mind after arrival. So, I used them in some appropriate place or another which I’ve now forgotten. My 17-year-old grandson appreciated me more for a moment, but my own kids and daughters-in-law were shocked — at least it looked like that to me. Like a child who gets attention, I managed to use the words several more times during the day. (Call it a disadvantaged childhood or something!)

Like a child (once again), I slipped something terrible into our once-every-five-years New Year’s Day brunch. At our urging, friends brought their three and a half year old granddaughter along. She was present at the table when I exclaimed, “Holy s---!” Don’t remember the context of that one either. Our guests’ mouths dropped — of course they didn’t know what to say. Our youngest guest laughed out loud—she knew full well that was a word she couldn’t use. She didn’t let it go at that. She kept looking at me and giggling just like you’d expect a three and a half year old kid to do.

That’s probably the last time her grandparents will let little Alice in the door. I’m still embarrassed about the whole thing. After all, I managed to raise our children (which took several years and sometimes still goes on) without cussing. What’s with this advanced age business? Am I letting it all hang out as some folks with dementia seem to do? I have no more to say. I’m going to overcome my transgressions in the New Year. Holy s---!  What a new year’s resolution!

Sandra Brian Lore

Sandra Brian Lore had a typical small-town and suburban life outside Chicago — until she served for 32 years in the Foreign Service.

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