I was in line in Target not long ago and could not help but overhear the conversation of two people behind me. It wasn’t so much the topic of the conversation, but the tone of the conversation. These were two women talking about everyday things such as soccer games and the beginning of the new school year. They talked about which teachers their children were assigned, how much the school supplies were costing this year and such. Of course, they said all this with language peppered with profanities that would make a longshoreman cover his ears.
I’m no stranger to profanity. I use it and I will never deny that I use profanities. Hit your thumb with a hammer and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you don’t cry out a “Gee whiz, that really smarts!” You’re gonna let loose with a string of naughty words that are extremely creative, crude, and very loud. I used to work with a guy who could string otherwise unrelated profanities into sentences that made perfect, but obscene sense.
How do you write a column about profanity without using any? Well, kids, I don’t know. This is a family newspaper and I don’t want to get letters and emails about the language I used in the paper. My grandmother still drives and I don’t want her traveling the 400 miles from her house to mine brandishing the biggest bar of soap I have ever seen. I might occasionally slip a “damn” or “hell” in the paper, but I will leave it at that. I don’t have any reason to be lewd in my columns and I won’t do it gratuitously. There have been some comments about my columns that have been profane, but people have the right to say what they want — even if they are big, poopy meanie heads. I know that sounds goofy, and doesn’t have the ring of some other things I could have said, but a lot of you pay to read this paper and I don’t want your daily delivery disrupted because I said a naughty word or 10 in the paper.
Returning to the potty-mouth mommies at Target, I have concluded that today’s culture has allowed people to speak any which way, with little courtesy toward those around them. I don’t want to sound holier than thou, because when I converse with my friends, I can be remarkably and creatively profane. In my professional life, or when I am with my family, I put the brakes on the four-letter words and keep my mouth shut. Wherever you go, conversations can be heard where F-words and such punctuate most sentences with little regard to context or content. Rarely are they used for anything other than adjectives to enhance even the most mundane subject.
I don’t have any issue with movies or television becoming more adult. If I don’t like it, I don’t watch it. The same goes for music. I don’t like a lot of the newer music, but my grandparents didn’t like my parents’ music, either. As I mentioned, I am far from a prude. However, back-to-school night at my grandson’s school should not sound like it was directed by Martin Scorsese.
A lot of folks today have accepted this as a societal norm. There is a time and a place, though. In line at Target, talking about pencils and notebook probably is not the place nor the time. I’m just a middle-aged guy with old-fashioned manners, what do I know? My wife makes sure I watch my mouth in public. She put a swear jar in our kitchen so I had to put a little money in each time I used bad language in the house. She promised me I could spend the money on anything I want.
This year, I bought a Mercedes.
Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.