I am Owed a BIG Apology
David Lee Beowülf
Don’t Mean Shit.
I came up with the idea for “bad influence” after “one of those nights,” watching the Super Bowl with my New York homeboys and their families. (Shhh! They don’t know I’m writing about them!) We were all sitting there watching whichever teams were playing (wow! I can’t remember who was in the Super Bowl! I’ve been cured of pro sports!) and I said a bad word. I said “shit.” I used “shit” in a sentence as an exclamatory in the heat of passion during what I considered an amazing play. Frankly, the best thing about this year’s Super Bowl was KISS playing before the opening. Other than that, I got to watch Arnold as “Mr. Freeze” earlier in the day.
Anyway, I said the word “shit.” I didn’t necessarily scream it out, but you sure could hear it. And I’ll be the first to admit I have a pottymouth — just like everyone else who’s been born after, oh, say 1950.
But that doesn’t matter, you can’t reason with hypocrites.
The point, oh yeah… So, I said something like “…John, look at that shit!” and John’s sister-in-law and a couple of other young (in the 18-34 demographic) women verbally attacked me, reminding me that “…there were children in the room.” And yes, there were, I distinctly remember a five-year old (or thereabouts) and a couple of infants “watching” with us. (If I missed anyone: fuck you, kid!)
On the face of it, yeah, I suppose I should watch my mouth around little kids, maybe. But earthy language never hurt anyone, did it? OK, guilty as charged.
In my defense, I suppose I should mention what the “ladies” were discussing during the game…
Among the choice subjects were breast implants, psychics, and men, lots of men, “good looking” men.
You Be the Judge
Like I said, I’ll admit 100% guilt in “cursing” in the presence of children. I should also mention that there was alcohol in the room as well.
Now, they made me feel pretty small with their attacks, I mean I was hurt. Since hindsight is 20/20, and I’m a gentleman aside from my sailor-talk, I didn’t think of retaliating other than the tried and true “…I’m sure they’ve never heard that word before…” — doesn’t work. I sulked quietly through most of the fourth quarter.
As time went on, I became more and more upset. Now wait a minute, these women were, in front of a very bright five-year old girl, talking about mutilating themselves in order to attract men — yes, they were! I could imagine what the conversation was like on the way home for them: “Mommy, what are breast implants?”
Who would want to answer that question?! And what about “Mommy, why does that lady want them?”
Would mommy reply with “well, sweetheart, that lady feels cheated in that she can’t get enough good looking men to fawn over her because her breasts are too small.”
An honest answer. Which would be countered with, “Mommy, are my breasts too small?”
OK! Maybe not at age five, but I carry around baggage from when I was five, and I’m sure this little girl will too. What happens when she hits 13 and feels “inadequate”? Guess who sowed the seeds of discontent… It sure wasn’t a pretend-Viking who said the word “shit.”
Next might be, “Mommy, what’s a psychic?” I happen to know that the religious mix in the room was predominantly Jewish and Roman Catholic. Both religions follow books that expressly forbid dealing with “psychics” (e.g., Lev. 19:31, Gal 5:20, etc.). So what happens when the kid goes to church the next Sunday and talks about her mommy who sees a psychic?
And what about all the “good looking man” talk? Hey, if the decorum allows, no problem, but do you want sound like a slut in front of a five-year old? Can you say “child abuse”?
On the Other Side…
I am not condemning these clowns, just pointing out that I was treated unfairly.
It goes back years for me. I wasn’t allowed to do things like the other kids my age. I didn’t see “R” rated movies, never went to rock concerts, and basically lived like any other “oppressed” kid whose parents “cared” about him. (I still managed to get into a hell of a lot of trouble, though; if I can give any advice to the morons out there who’ve forgotten what being a kid was like, you’ve got to provide alternatives for your children. For example, OK, so I can’t go to a rock concert, even though I can rattle off at least twenty of my 14-year old peers who can, what is there for me to do? Ahh! Stay at home and watch TV. Need I say more?) I suppose my parents thought that such activities would somehow mess up my impressionable teenage self. Well mom and dad, I would have preferred to have gotten it all out of my system then instead of spreading it out over my twenties and thirties.
As an adult (I’ve been “legal” since 1981) I’ve gone to plenty of “R” rated films, seen hundreds of rock concerts, and I even drink beer. And I use bad language, too.
And I pay occasionally for using bad language, as discussed above. Once I said “bastards” in front of a TV camera, and they remarked that it would have to be edited out. Hell, I was quoting from the movie Patton , concerning an athletic event in which I was a part. (Sigh.) You know, I guess there’s a time and a place for everything, but I was made to feel like a complete asshole. Yet about six hours later, one of the others started jumping off the roof of the hotel into the pool. I mean, this was a six-story leap, too. I don’t recall him getting any peershit for it, except for the thrill of being threatened with arrest.
But what’s language, anyway? What’s really wrong with bad language? I understand Sir Laurence Oliver had quite a foul mouth, too. He went pretty far without much correction. And a lot of actors look upon him with reverence.
I may have a defense witness in good old Mrs. K. She was a regular at the pool where I was a lifeguard, and I remember how she pooh-poohed R-rated movies because of bad language.
“What’s ‘language’?” she mocked. “You’re going to hear it no matter what.” I think she asked if I’d seen a movie, and if a twelve-year-old should see it. Though the name of the film escapes me, I remember remarking to her that the “R” rating was received most likely because of the rough language used.
She, a grade-school reading (?) teacher, later on spoke at length about the apparent uselessness of negative numbers. Seems, in order to make a few extra bucks, she was tutoring a young man in elementary school math who was having trouble with negative numbers. Mrs. K, a middle-aged woman of 50, a certified “teacher,” wasn’t able to handle the complexities of negative numbers. “Who needs to use them?” she wondered out loud.
I had an answer, but she didn’t understand it.
I actually overheard her say that were she pregnant in the early ’80s instead of the late ’60s, she’d have aborted her third child. This hit me hard, because her third child was a pretty good friend of mine. Besides, I didn’t think he was the type to make a mom regret giving birth.
I overheard her say that about her son, so did lots of kids. Now, her son is a big dude, so no one in their right mind would make fun of him, but what are they to ask of their own parents? “Mommy, why didn’t Mrs. K want her son?” Or “did you want me?” Personally, I’d rather my kid be around some bearded lout who said “shit” during a football game… Hmmm, I don’t think I need Mrs. K to build my case…
I know my mother wanted me before I was born, because she told me so. Of course, after I’d put a few “harmless” events under my belt, including having to bring home a note from my fifth grade phys ed teacher saying that I’d used “curse words” in school (I said “you suck” to someone, who, in all honesty, did not suck, but these things happen), the “want” scale started tipping in the other direction. How can I remember such things? They scar through the bone, that’s how. I am by no means innocent, mind you, it’s just that I always got caught, and the punishment seemed to be fourfold what it should have been. While the other kids were breaking into houses and getting away with it after crying in front of the cops, I’d get grounded for a week for saying the word “fuck” in public. Shit, I caught more shit for using bad words than some dudes who were caught stealing triple-beam balances in junior high school! And they later went on to be serious drug addicts!
So you people listen up: I am going to be myself, no matter what, and if that means sprinkling my language with a few choice Anglo-Saxon words, that’s your tough luck, but you’ll have less headaches laughing off my vulgarities in the presence of your precious children than you will explaining things mommy’s close friends “taught” them the other night.