Here’s a picture of the first time I ever held my grandson.
He was about fifteen minutes old.
Sang him a lullaby: “I Am A Child”.
I mean… Neil. What else?
Here it is, pushing nine years later, and I just got a test message from our son. They live with our daughter-in-law right on the coast south of Big Sur:
Our Son: “I told Josiah to write a cuss word in the sand. My baby’s all grown up.”
Me: “What word? Did he spell it correctly? Can he apply it appropriately in a sentence? Why no picture?”
We don’t get to see him as often as we’d like, and, well, I’d like to have photos to mark all the special occasions and milestones.
I haven’t gotten a reply (or picture) back yet, but I’m really kind of curious what the kid came up with.
While it might not be the most offensive or popular cuss word, I’m kind of pulling for “asshole”.
In this day and age, it might possibly be the one most widely and appropriately used.
How many times does someone say “shit” in a literal sense, right?
I mentioned this to my wife, who didn’t really think it was all that cute.
But really, come on: “shit” isn’t even really a cuss word any more, and “asshole”? There’s some places I’ve worked where it was a job description. #personnel analyst #exUSAFrecruiter
And it being an election year – albeit mid-terms – “asshole” is gonna get quite a workout over the next six months or so.
Son just called.
It wasn’t “asshole”.
Okay, now that I got the cute “little boy story” out of the way, let’s think about this a bit.
He actually wrote the word “Bitch”.
Maybe that takes a way some of the endearingly humorous quality of the story, ’cause really – I’m serious about this – I don’t think “shit” is that big a deal any more. Everybody at least says it to themselves every now and then, if nothing else: first you step in it, then you say it.
Slam your thumb with a hammer? Oh yeah. You think it a lot louder.
But with “bitch”, you’re charting the territory of the derogatory, pejorative cuss words.
I’m not sure the kid knows what it means.
Actually, I’m not really quite sure what it’s supposed to mean any more. Unless you’re breeding Huskies or Mastiffs or Belgian Tervurens, you’re not using it in its original sense. I wonder if it’s primary definition even involves a woman with a particularly nasty and unpleasant attitude.
Depending upon who is saying it, it could be either an uber-feminist quality (“I’m one bad ass bitch!” or “That bitch don’t take shit from nobody!”) or a unisex adjective to describe someone who has yet to escape the self-controlled persona of a two-year-old being told not to throw their toys all over the place (“God, that one’s always bitchin’ about something!”) or a descriptive term for a shiny new Ferrari (“Whoooooa. Bitchin’, dude!”).
In some social circles, it’s become almost a term of endearment and affection without any sense of commitment, synonymous with “Baby Mama”: “Me and my bitch’ll be hittin’ the clubs tonight!”).
It’s one of those words, though, that is primarily hurled at someone or about someone for whom the speaker has very little respect.
Those words hurt.
Shit stinks, “bitch” hurts.And as our grandson grows up, he’s going to learn at least six more of them, and that’s just starting off with four of St. George’s original seven … in which “bitch” is not even included. It’s like he said: “‘Tits’ don’t even belong on the list. Sounds like a cracker. ‘New Nabisco’s TITS!'”
I would also leave off “shit” and “piss” for two simple reasons:
people often refer to others being in a “pissy” mood or getting into a “pissing match”, and they’re both virtually irreplaceable in terms of context.
And “shit” is half of the word “bullshit”, and having worked within the legal system for fifteen years, I don’t think I could have survived without it. I think it’s the most realistic explanation for why I didn’t become a lawyer like my folks had hoped: all my fines for Contempt of Court would have quadrupled my debt from four years of college and law school.
I would just hope that our grandson grows up to be sensitive and classy enough to realize that there are certain words you just don’t use because they are – for lack of a better word – weapons. They are meant to hurt. They are meant to demean. They are not spoken, they are aimed.
And sometimes they are actually rather innocent, thoroughly common, entirely acceptable words.
I’ve been called a “hippie”, a “Liberal”, a “tree hugger” and a “Democrat” with the same bile coating those words that would usually be reserved for “bastard” or “son-of-a-bitch”. People who take pride in being Rednecks sure wouldn’t take it in the same spirit if I referred to them as being one.
And please, for the love of God, let’s not start on “the ‘N’ word”: who can say it? who can’t say it? is it okay to use it with an “a” at the end of it? does that mean by anyone or just rappers and professional athletes?
And let’s leave all ethnic terms out of it, because by now I think we all understand that it was perfectly and politically correct for my mother-in-law to tell people I didn’t eat beans because I was a “honky” while I could never get away with saying she did because she was a “beaner”.
If my grandson were to ask me, I would tell him that your intent in your choice of words can be more hateful or hurtful than the word itself, so please …
… use them all wisely.
If there’s only one word that will work in a given situation, well … go for it. If that word and only that word will convey the message and its intensity better than any other word, I would use it. I have. I do. And I fully expect to catch some shit for it every so often.
So if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.
If all else fails, you can always fall back on “asshole”.
Really sound advice coming from a guy whose seemingly favorite adjective has nothing literally to do with either procreation or wanton coitus.