Thursday, May 31, 2018

Swearing: a memoir.

Well, let me first just say that I began cursing as a small child. There is a small legendary story told in my family, about a time when I drove to California with my grandparents (is that correct? I was too small for this to be an actual memory, just two. My mother was having or had just had my little brother, and we were moving, so yes, I think it was my grandparents). Anyway: they had bought me a little set of stuff to do in the car that somehow involved scissors. The little plastic kind. Maybe it was paper dolls, which used to come with handy scissors, because you had to cut stuff out. (Bless these modern times! in which things come pre-cut-out, and thus you can play with them straight out of the box, instead of having to excise them from their papery origins!)

Cue a super-cute kid-swear: I am reported to have said, "These damn scissors simply won't cut!"

It's a very short journey from this adorable cursing to using the f word, with which I got comfortable as a freshman at BYU.
An interlude: 
BYU was a pretty weird place. 
1. Evening prayer in the dorms. Every evening? Seems improbable, but I think it actually was? 
2. I think the girls at the end of my hall smoked dope on the regular. 
3. You could legit get a pizza delivered through your window, courtesy of The Rusty Nail, which was across the street and down the way. (Also: I knew someone who saw some Osmonds at the 7-Eleven just next door to said pizzeria.) 
4. So. Much. Righteousness. 
...which made a perfect petri dish for people like me to experiment with lite wickedness, such as swearing.
At Ann Cannon's book launch tonight, she read a column about finding a swear box underneath one of her sons' beds, with a detailed list of all the possible swears and what they were worth, in terms of a dollar penalty. It was filled with IOUs, which were eventually supposed to be paid up and donated to a worthy charity. Mostly, though, just IOUs.

When we got home from this literary event, we picked up Game 1 of the NBA finals, Cavs v. Warriors--we got home just as the first half was ending. The second half started. Sometime early in the fourth quarter, a Cav who shall remain nameless missed a rebound he should have snagged and I swore up a blue streak.

"Maybe I need a swear box," I said. The historian laughed.

Well, that's probably never going to happen. However, I probably don't need to get exercised at an NBA game to the extent that a swear-dense utterance comes out of my mouth at an inconsequential missed rebound. (In my defense, the Cavs lost the game, and I am not [insert a density of swears] happy about it.)

I'd like my swearing to be mostly recreational, if I have anything to say about it. Do I? Have anything to say about it? I suppose I do.

I'm basically leaving the door open on whether I will reconsider my swearing ways, or whether--as with my erstwhile shopping moratorium or my desire/resolve to put away my clothes and/or not have more clothes than I can actually put away, let alone shoes, let alone books!--I will be a backslider and a fence sitter, etc., with regard to these and plenty of other self-improvements.

However, after hearing Ann Cannon talk about how writing a newspaper column helped her pay attention to her life--and also that keeping a blog, however intermittent, and something like the same effect--I swear that I am going to really, really try to blog. Which is to say: write. The world cannot be worse with just a little more writing, paying attention to my life, and turning that attention into words. Some of which will be swear words, but not most.


for Ann Cannon




6 comments:

  1. Well. THIS just made my morning. My day. Probs my week. And now I'm glad I lived at home when I went to BYU, so thanks for helping me achieve clarity on this point. At last. xoxox

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  2. Good stuff though I'd like to know the details about your F-word usage at BYU. I simply can't wrap my mind around feeling comfortable using this word at BYU even as senior. In my time (early 90s) that word was verboten. A harsh "fetch" just fine; a "Judas Priest" ok in duress. A "damn" maybe a "shit" in jest or after a bad fall, but a "fuck"...at least not in my on-campus BYU housing or even out on the mt bike trails with fellow BYU students.

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  3. I have this really strong urge to reply fuckin’ A, but that is perhaps too extreme a response?

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  4. who can say what is too extreme? I ask you: who??

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    Replies
    1. I still ask HOW? how were able to achieve such heights of paradox and confidence? How did you arrive there? did you experience any shame at all? I'm not even sure I could drop the F-bomb on the BYU campus today and I'm a fuckin atheist.

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