Day Sixteen: Oh Fricative

English: "No Swearing" sign along At...

English: “No Swearing” sign along Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gone. I know why it’s called a zip drive.  You store your work, four hours of dedicated, ideas flowing, fingers flying work, and then ZIP, it’s gone.  Gone. Gone.  Gone, baby, gone.  I had relived my  exciting, stimulating, enthralling parent/teacher conference, writing it all down and increasing my word count and ZIP.  Gone.  I feel like swearing.  I could.

I don’t like swearing though.  For one, it sounds stupid.  There are so many really great words in the English language to use and to resort to using a set of finite Anglo-Saxon verbiage makes me a little embarrassed at myself. This is why I always feel stupid when I swear out loud. Even if I‘m by myself I look to see if anyone heard me. Swearing is too easy–it’s lazy. It’s like taking the elevator to walk one flight of stairs.

But I do wonder what is it about certain words that when said, releases tension? Also, why are certain words considered okay and others not. Who decides that a word becomes too shocking to use in civilized society?  Is there a BWC, a “Bad Word Committee” out patroling around, ready to cull words from usage and deem them dirty, profane, shocking, offensive, or taboo?

This I learned in school: Some words start out innocently enough and eventually hit  objectionable list.

Found under carnal knowledge.  Take that one and use only the first letters and you’ve got the “oh my”  of all bad words.  But that’s what it means.  Or so I overheard a girl in the library tell a girl.  She’s a junior and they are studying American Literature and with that comes reading The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter. Yeah. Found under carnal knowledge.  Public school education at its finest.

I used to profane my sentences like everyone else did.  Then one day Gran heard me use a swear word after I slammed my bare foot into one of the kitchen table chairs.  She looked as if I had slapped her.  She looked so hurt I would use such a word, actually an expression, I felt shamed.  I actually hadn’t given swearing any thought.  Everyone swears, especially teenagers. That not saying because I’m a teenager I have a special permit to swear, I’m just pointing out it’s easier to do something if everyone else is doing it.  Reacting without thinking. Swearing does not involve much thinking.  I swear I learned most of my swear words from going to public school.  However, the profanity posse has rode into town and now it’s illegal at our school to cuss (and to hang out with kids who do).

Last year a group of people, one of those state education groups, who observe schools for whatever reason, commented on how much profanity they heard while visiting or school.  This prompted the no swearing rule.  Teachers are now actually handing out tickets for swearing.  The Profanity Police are out and about.  Watch your mouth.  Pop out a naughty word and if caught, the offender finds a ticket in hand and lunch detention. It sounds dumb, but it works.  I don’t know too many kids who want to do lunch detention, especially for something as stupid as swearing. I don’t want to be one of the kids who spends their thirty minutes in room 401.  That’s in the D wing–known for D as in the dummy hall.  You got to be dumb to get detention.  Rare do you see a National Honor Society student in there.

So now that I’ve become a reformed potty mouth, what do I say when I stub my toe, or drop my binder onto the floor and scatter its contents in all directions?  Stupid stuff.  So stupid that when I say it I start laughing and can’t stay mad.  How stupid?  What about “Pickle Farts!”  If you count “fart” as a swear word, then I don’t know.  “Pickle Toot!” doesn’t have the same ring.  I discovered it’s not so much the word that is the problem it’s the connotation.

Connotation and denotation. These are terms I picked up in English.  I actually do learn some stuff in there.  Connotation is the implied meaning.  Like “gay.”  Right.  I hear the  snickering.  “Gay” actually means “happy,” which is the denotation, or the actually meaning of the world. Over time the word has changed. I looked it up in the dictionary and the first two meanings have to do with being light-hearted.  The third is sexual orientation. The word rates an asterisk.  At the bottom of the definition is this detailed paragraph on how gay is now a word used primarily for sexual orientation designation and goes on for a bit how the word is now changed. It’s always interesting when we read one of those old stories or poems and the author inserts how gay he or she felt about something.  Mature audiences do not abound in high school.

That rabbit trail about swearing results from losing my data.  I had it all typed up about how my progress in each subject and how my parents handled the conference and what we did.  I know it’s hiding in my laptop somewhere.  I know it is.  This is when I crave  tech Ninja skills.  I need the word count, so I will try to remember it all once again.

We get to school at 3:20 pm, even though conferences don’t start until 3:30.  Dad likes to get to places early.  He hates to be late.  Mom can go either way.  She doesn’t stress about time.  She would rather be early than late, and she likes to keep Dad in a good mood so she just flows with going out the door on his time schedule.

Swear word.

What I had yesterday for this part was so much better than this blathering I’m doing.  I think it’s because I’m tired.  Something about having extra time over the weekend makes me even more tired.  All I did was hang out and read yesterday.  That and napped.  And snack.  No one cooks on Sundays.  It was not one of our going to church Sundays.  We are not good about the continuity thing.

Okay, try again. Dad and Mom get my report card.  They look at the grades.  Nothing too shocking.  Of course they dwell on the “C” in Geometry, instead of the “A-“ in English and Typing.  And a “B-“ in Biology is respectable.  As far as the conferences go:

English-“She’s quiet.  That’s not a complaint.” Appropriate agreeable laughter sounds.  “She turns her work in, and for the most part it’s refreshing.  Sometimes I think she hurries and doesn’t proofread out those fragments and run-on sentences.  That comes with time.  Overall, I think she is an asset to the class.  Speak up a little more.”  Polite smile, fade-out chuckles.

Geometry:  “I think she gets the concepts.  How are you studying for the tests?  I thought so.  Do you practice with the problems in the back of the book?  Well, give them a try and I will be glad to check your work.  The even answers are provided.  Maybe by semester we will see that “C” rise to a “B”.

Biology: “Not a bad beginning.  A bit shaky on some of the early tests.  A nice solid “A” on her recent lab report.  She writes better than most of the sophomores.  But then that should come natural, shouldn’t it?” That adult chuckling thing again.  “I’d say a little more studying to bring the test scores up, but otherwise doing okay.”

PE: “Most of the grade comes from dressing down, something she does, unlike a few of the girls.  Participates.  Though athletics aren’t a real strong point.  I give her credit for trying.  That’s all I ask, is for students to at least try.  Dressing down and trying, that’s what PE is all about.”

History:  “For some reason I don’t have many girls in this class.  The fact is I seem to have mostly football players.  That could be intimidating.  It does intimidate me at times.  HaHaHa.  My parents and teacher share a chuckle.  I focus on the “Got Milk?” poster on the cafeteria wall.  “I appreciate her written work, but we do have a participation grade and you can see that has affected her overall points.  So I would see keep up the writing, and speak up.”  HaHaHa

Typing:  Whatever.  Sit down.  Shut up.  Type.  I can do this one no problem.

Art:  I like art. The teacher likes me.  This is all good.

TA:  Office assistant.  “Hello, Student speaking.”  Run messages, file excuses, doctor notes, backpack lost and found, etc.  Do my homework in between.  I passed.

That should have taken all of what?  A half hour?  Five minutes per teacher. Skip the TA conference, that’s five times seven teachers which is thirty-five minutes.  Try instead an hour and ten minutes.  We got the first conference done and down and guess what?  Other parents show up.  They want to talk to teachers as well.  Mom and Dad finally got the idea of picking separate teachers and getting in a line.  Some were only two deep.  That meant about ten to fifteen minutes of waiting.  The conferences are all in the gymnasium.  The teachers are herded in their little groups like Old MacDonald’s farm. With English here, and History there, here a PE, there an Art e-i-e-i-o.

The separate, divide and conquer routine, with a  “I’m next” wave” proved too excruciating and I decided I really needed to go to my locker.  Dad, realizing, (thank you for your keen awareness, Dad) I was withering with embarrassment decided he and Mom would hang together instead.  We suffered, or rather I suffered through the rest of the conferences.  I still haven’t gotten over being talked about as if I not there.  Sitting there and listening to them discuss me is almost like an out of body three-dimensional experience.  And my parents wonder why I tend to not tell them about parent teacher conferences?

At five o’clock we are seated at the Olive Garden.  Fortunately my classes are no longer a topic of discussion and we actually enjoy a nice dinner.  Dad talks about his recent assignment—an article about the bypass recently built in a small Idaho town.  No big deal.  Except the bypass took over sixty years to finally get going.  The usual cries of destroying the nature habitat had concerned citizenry bent on stopping its progress.  “The environment will suffer!”  “The city will suffer!”  “Too much money!”  In the mean time, Dad tells us, the town is burdened with trucks, cars, even bicyclists who smother the flow of traffic.  The bypass is built and all problems are solved.  Hmm, maybe, maybe not.      Dad traveled there to do an in-depth article about the before and after of the bypass. What was hoped would be accomplished with the bypass and what actually happened.  Dad fell in love with the town and I got the feeling as Mom listens to him describe the huge, splendorous lake surrounded by mostly trees on hillsides “resplendent with trees, Sylvie, very few houses,” that a move might be imminent.

I begin to fuss inwardly. Oh, come on, parents!  I have at least two more years of school to finish.  You know, that minor meltdown I had not too long ago?  The one that extracted a promise I could graduate with my class?  Hello?  How about a vacation outing instead?  Christmas skiing sounds good.  Shopping for new living arrangements doesn’t.  Instead a nod and a smile, “Pass the bread, please.”


Swear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


2 responses to “Day Sixteen: Oh Fricative

  1. Great post! I enjoyed it – rang a lot of bells for me, and gave me a few giggles too!

  2. Pingback: Serendipity and Fricatives « cricketmuse

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