2 May 2016

Stop this S***!

Do you have a memory from early on in your life, and for some reason  remembered it?

I remember being at the drive-thru at my local McDonalds when I was young- I'd guess about 8. My 6 member family were all piled up in the car and we were ordering our favourite deserts (a family ritual every Sunday) which consisted of the same order: 3 creamy white, sugar-filled and decadent chocolate-draped ice cream sundaes, a similar rich, dark crimson and creamy strawberry sundae for my dad and two crispy and cracked golden apple pies for my oldest sister and twin brother.

I distinctly remember bringing up the topic of swearing (although I did not know it as 'swearing' at the time) whilst eagerly awaiting to wrap my tiny hands around the undulating plastic form of the cold chocolate sundae I had ordered. Back then I had just heard words such as "S**t", "damn" and "crap" being thrown around for the first time at school-which my more experienced self now sees as laughable compared to the words hurled around now, but nonetheless that was the day I discovered that 'swear words' existed and asked my parents inquisitively what these words were, why people used them and what they meant. I think I had realized that these terms weren't 'everyday', frequently used terms (or that's what I thought) as  I had never heard these words spoken before in my household.



My mom answered my curiosity with a simple sentence "People who swear are not 'cool' (but rather are trying to be) and lack vocabulary as they cannot find better words". I think I rolled my eyes and blurted out something along the lines of "Seriously, mom. Come on?". My mom, in proper motherly fashion has repeated that sentence to me a handful of times since and at first I hadn't thought it had made an impression on me. I mean really? I doubt that the reason that people swear is because they want to 'fit in' and be cool. Really?

With that, the car rolled forward and was met with an outstretched hand giving a traditional brown plastic bag with the top curled down slightly and handed it to my dad. With that, I enclosed my 10 oddly long fingers and unusually irregularly shaped short nails (I was a nail biter) around the just off-white wondrous concoction of ice-cream and chocolate and forgot all about the conversation with my mom. Until, sometime later, I brought up swearing again where my mom, again, simply repeated her now increasingly popular line "People who swear are not 'cool' (but rather are trying to be) and lack vocabulary as they cannot find better words".

Fast forward to grade 8 where hearing words such as "s**t" "pu**y" and even "f**k" were the norm. I entered high school and still hadn't found myself blurting out these words. I distinctly remember a friend stating "Just wait Steph; By the end of high school you'll be swearing (and drinking) like a sailor" I responded with laughter and a strong statement of doubt.



Fast forward 1825 days (...or five years) to Steph as a senior. I went out to lunch with my best friend from preparatory school -Sam, whom I haven't seen since the day I left preparatory school. Every fourth word which she stammered was a swear word which after all these years has become less sharp to my de-sensitized ears but nonetheless still harsh. When Sam asked whether I swear, with a wide smile, a sense of childish giddiness and a great sense of pride I responded with "No", only to be met with a look suitable for seeing an alien who had just landed on Earth.

I have a concern; Since when has it become unusual for a teenager not to swear? How has our generation (and our parents) turned these once socially unacceptable words (in most regions) into an unacceptable scenario if one does not use them? Some argue that these are words- just like any other-and shouldn't be seen as any different, but in my opinion, these words historically, politically and socially operate in a context where the particular words are (were?) frowned upon.
Why is it that the individuals, like me, who don't swear have become the 'abnormal' ones?



On the other hand, we kids have been described as sponges-absorbing everything we see and hear. If your parents are condoning these vile utterances than maybe it isn't our generation who are the messed-up ones, popularly known as the trigger for the "decline of our society as we know it".

Upon some Google searching, I have found that there are an astounding 1,025,109 words in the English language, according to the Global Language Monitor. This number out ways the number of swear words by about 1.025.009. There are only a hundred or so swear words currently circulating- but as is the nature of any dynamic language, there will be more. Let's use these one million plus words to benefit ourselves and our society.

On the odd occasion that 'Sugar Honey Ice Tea' does escape my mouth, it still pierces my ear ossicles and makes me shuffle uncomfortably and as you can probably tell from my use of asterisk's I still avoid swear words.

Upon reflection of that Sunday drive-thru where my 6 family members were bundled in the warmth of our long, white Chrysler, I realized that maybe Steph back then did in fact want to be that 'cool kid' who had a brain full of complex and elaborate words at the ready to be spewed out at any given moment and never needed to use these 'swear words' and you know what... I think those of us who don't swear, we're the cool kids. It also shows something about our ability to overcome the grueling peer-pressure that accompanies the life of a teenager in high school, particularly. Can someone get cooler than that? I don't think so.

I think that the Steph clustered amongst her family in the car partly wanted to be the 'cool kid' but more importantly wanted to make her parents proud- with a wealth of words which weren't 'swear words'.

Excuse the hypocrisy and the irony, but don't get caught up in all this ****.
Dung! The word's dung!


Stay cool, kids.
Till next time-
Steph
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