PARENTAL ADVISORY/WARNING/WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT: The content of this blog is stellar as always, but some of the language (used validly and in context) may prove too much for the Aunt Pitty Pats out there. Read with smelling salts in hand.
We are well bred. We know that we can catch more flies with honey and we are perfectly happy to operate that way, but sometimes a little more fire is necessary. Yes, on occasion a Southern Belle is called upon to get someone’s attention by throwing in a little strong language here and there.
Yes, we cuss and we do it with flare.
Ya’ll have probably already figured this out, but I cuss like a sailor. I have a Grade A, Five Star, Solid Gold potty mouth and I leaned at my father’s knee. My dad incorporates four letter words so seamlessly into everyday conversation that it sounds as natural as taking a breath. He’s a potty poet laureate.
I walk a fine line between cussing a blue streak and keeping up Southern Belle appearances. Let’s just say that I have been traumatizing my mother with bad language ever since I could walk and talk. Dad didn’t exactly watch his mouth when I hit the scene—it was probably too ingrained in his psyche to do much about it anyway. Plus, he thought I was kinda cute when I did it...and I was. (Humble, n’est-ce pas?)
Back in the Cretaceous Period, when I was around 1 or 2 years old, the Wilmington Belk was in what is now the New Hanover County Library at Third and Chestnut Streets. In that day and age, Belk apparently had a sewing section that was manned by the little old ladies who now appear to run the house wares department. There was some sort of sale going on, so Mom popped me in the stroller and we went to Belk.
We got to the department, Mom asked the store clerks for whatever it was that she was looking for and the clerks told her that they were out. I responded from my stroller by exclaiming, “Well, sh*t!”
Now—in all honesty—I had just pooped a diaper, so we’ll never know exactly what my exclamation was for. Suffice it to say that, regardless of the reason for my outburst, the little old lady Belk clerks were scandalized and my mother was mortified. It was right around that time that I “snuck” into my parents’ bedroom in the wee hours of the morning and uttered, “G*dd*mn son of a b*itch!” upon stubbing my toe whilst stealthily creeping.
I have to say that my mother held her tongue pretty well around little ears; however, as the ears grew, the epithets fell out with a touch more frequency and then...well...you know how people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they found out that something shocking and/or traumatizing happened? Both of my parents can tell you where they were when they got the news that Kennedy had been shot. I had a day off from school and was eating lunch with my family when we heard about the Challenger disaster. I can also tell you where I was when my mother dropped the F-bomb.
I worked as a paralegal in my father’s office for three years in between graduating from Carolina and going to law school. Dad was out of town and I was standing in my mother’s office. Mom was rather unhappy about something and she said, “F*ck it!”
I was immobilized from shock. My world had just tilted on its axis. I finally stumbled out of her office and down the hall. I was completely at a loss as to what to do. I plopped down at my desk and felt the overwhelming need to talk to someone who truly understood the magnitude of what had just taken place. I called my brother in Los Angeles.
Of course, I completely forgot about the time difference, so he answered with a groggy voice saying, “Someone better be dead.”
“No, Ethan, it’s worse. Much worse. Mom just said f*ck!”
There was lot of thumping and rumbling around and then he said, “You’ve gotta be f*cking kidding me! Holy Sh*t!”
Years later, my own Baby Belles came into the world. I was hyper-aware of my own experiences in my youth and the fact that my language had only gotten worse since was very cold comfort. I have to say that I am pretty proud of how I’ve managed to keep things in check—what comes out of my mouth is completely different from what is being said in my head.
We’ve only had one slip-up that I know of with Baby Belle 1. It occurred on Christmas morning when she was three years old. My husband ran ahead of us down to the living room so that he could get the camera set up to record the Christmas splendor. Well, Baby Belle 1 and I walked into the room, her eyes got as wide as saucers and she said, “Sh*t!” (As luck would have it, BB 1 was out of the camera frame when the exclamation occurred, so all you see is me looking at the camera in shock with a “Did I Just Hear That?” look on my face.)
As for Baby Belle 2, there’s no telling. A month or so ago, she threw the TV remote down with a “Well, d*mn it!” Of course, I have no idea in the world how she would have learned that. I’m sure my ears were playing tricks on me.