“I’ve been accused of vulgarity. I say that’s bullshit.” -Mel Brooks
Well, it’s finally happened.
Apparently, I have offended someone.
I suppose it’s just par for the course if you’re a blogger. I’m actually quite pleased. And a little surprised that it didn’t happen sooner.
Here’s the deal…
I don’t have a huge following yet, so when a friend or follower reposts or retweets my blog out into the universe, or shares it with someone else, I’m pretty damned delighted about it. So last week, when a writer friend of mine shared my dog blog (last week’s edition was all about my beloved mutt, Archie), I was thrilled. I have several writer friends whose opinions I value, and when you work hard to craft a good story, having another writer praise your work is a big deal.
But a note back from the aforementioned writer friend indicated that someone had found my use of profanity offensive in the following sentence: “Gucci? What the fuck kind of name is that for a big dog?” My writer friend had cautioned me before about my language, reminding me that profanity offends some people. She said her friend had mentioned her displeasure via Facebook, and she (writer friend) dared me to respond to the comment politely.
Which I was all set to do, except by the time I went looking for the comment, it had been deleted.
So, what’s a nice Jewish Mother with a foul mouth to do?
Well, for starters, I have no intention of apologizing for my language.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any time at all, you have probably noticed that I don’t mince words. I have never been one to shy away from profanity if it suits the situation. Here at “Will Work For Foos”, we (and by we, I mean I) find some of the more colorful features of the English language very freeing. The F-bomb is not uncommon. Other ‘unmentionable’ words are also used with great frequency. It’s just who I am.
I distinctly remember my first profane utterance, at the age of about ten. I was at school, and we were playing kickball. There was a groundskeeper on site, on a big tractor-type mower, cutting the grass on the baseball diamonds where we were playing. My friend Rachel and I were covering the outfield, and a ball got away from us, so we chased it. We happened to cross paths with the mower, which scared us both.
“SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!” we yelled, as Rachel snatched up the ball. We ran back to the game, discussing our close call with the mower, which was probably not nearly as close as we perceived it to be. But a startled expletive felt justified. It was liberating to be ten and to say a bad word.
And I continued to say them, because that’s what kids do to feel more grown-up. Well, maybe not all kids. But kids with older siblings who say bad words indiscriminately (I had three such siblings) probably do. I was careful not to say them in front of my parents until I was older. By then they were splitting up, and my language was not really an issue on their radar. They had bigger fish to fry.
I’ve tried at times to eliminate profanity from my vocabulary, but never very successfully. In my college days, when I dated the nice Christian boy, he disliked hearing me utter profane words. I curtailed my use in his presence, but when we parted ways and I took up with my dangerous cowboy, one of the first questions I asked him was if he minded if I cursed.
After he quit laughing hysterically, he said “Babe, if you wanna cuss, you just drive it like you stole it!” At last, a man after my own heart!
Years later, when our kids were little, we both tried not to swear in front of them, but to no avail. I think our daughter was about 18 months old when she was riding in the car with her dad, and after a close call with a reckless driver who cut him off on the freeway, my husband honked and yelled “Watch it, motherfucker!”
He reported that immediately, from the back seat, all four syllables echoed back at him. Perfectly pronounced and clearly annunciated, in a little toddler voice. We were more delighted than upset that Celeste’s verbal skills were so advanced.
So, yeah. I use profanity freely. As does my husband, and both of my children. I know the argument that some will make; that the use of profanity indicates an inability to express one’s ideas civilly and intelligently. But I beg to differ. In our family, at least, foul language is the norm, yet it does nothing to diminish anyone’s ability to convey ideas. All four of us are writers. And college graduates. And quite adept at intelligent discourse on any number of subjects. Profanity may be interjected in conversations for emphasis, but not because we can’t think of anything else to say.
Lest you think the use of profanity indicates the absence of a moral compass on my part, rest assured that’s not the case. My 82 year-old mother is a WWFF subscriber. I would not put anything in my blog that I felt would offend her sensibilities. Of course, we are talking about the same woman who left both of my children slack-jawed after one particular visit.
They came home from Nana’s house eager to tell me something astounding. “MOM” said Jarrod, who was about eight at the time. “Nana dropped THE F-BOMB!” They proceeded to relay the incident, which I can only vaguely recall now. I think my mom must have dropped or spilled something and a mess ensued. I asked if this concerned them, this F-Bomb drop on Nana’s part. Celeste piped up. “Oh, no, it was AWESOME!”
In retrospect, maybe there’s a genetic disposition to the use of profanity in my family…
So, if I had responded to my writer friend’s friend, here’s the gist of what I would have said:
Dear Offended Reader,
When I feel passionately about something, and if I put it in this blog, it’s something I feel passionately about, my passion is frequently expressed with explicit language. That’s not meant to offend anybody, it is just who I am. What you’re getting with this blog is me, essentially. It is a look inside my mind, heart, and soul. I’m going to keep writing it in the manner that feels most honest to me. But you are under no obligation to read it, just as I am under no obligation to censor myself. If you’re offended, then obviously this blog is not for you.
Please remember why I began writing my blog in the first place. “Will Work For Foos” is a creative outlet for me, and hopefully, ten minutes of entertainment each week for you. But mostly, it exists as an ongoing love letter from me to the Foo Fighters. In the end, they’re the target audience I want most to appeal to. And I’ve seen all five of these guys interviewed. Watch the “Back and Forth” DVD sometime. You’ll see.
I will fit in just fine.