Here’s a bit of senior humor by one of the Charleston Mercury columnists, Patra Taylor.
I learned to curse from an expert
It’s hard to believe that one twelfth of the New Year is already behind us. To keep my mind off just how fast my life is slipping through my fingers, I decided to take a moment to evaluate how I’m doing on this year’s resolutions. Losing weight and exercising remain the top picks for Americans looking to begin improving their lives with the flip of a calendar. Sadly, aging found me facing the next 365 days embracing a new pragmatism.
“Lose 25 pounds” didn’t even make my list this year. I figured 15 years holding the number one spot on my resolutions list was long enough. Any New Year’s resolution that can be de-railed by the first Hershey bar with almonds to come along isn’t worth the self-recrimination that comes along with the effort, however feeble. I did, however, included a scaled-back version of exercise. I made a solemn commitment to go exercise once per week! I did great for three weeks, and then it slipped my mind. My husband started the year with a more rigorous exercise regimen, but a few days ago he climbed back aboard the lazy train with his beloved wife. However, I do so admire him for continuing to tote his gym bag back and forth to work everyday. Having lost the ability to fool myself anymore–it went about the same time as my close-up vision–I transformed my new roomy workout clothes into my “eating Hershey bars” clothes.
I’m happy to report success on one of my resolutions. I quit cursing…well, almost. My decision to give up this skill that I had cultivated for the better part of half a century was prompted by a recent study that found that residents of Ohio, my birthplace, curse more than anyone else in the country. Surprisingly, South Carolinians were NOT among those who curse the least, although it makes me wonder if all the folks who have moved to the Palmetto State from Ohio in the last three of decades had something to do with skewing those results. The least I can do to help clean up my fellow Ohioans’ potty-mouth reputation is by ceasing and desisting with the cuss words.
The “Hershey Bar with Almonds Syndrome” explained
In my defense, I learned to curse from an expert–my dear, sweet mother. A Hoosier by birth, my mother was transplanted to Northwestern Ohio after marrying my father. There near the border of these two Midwestern states a mysterious phenomenon occurs when the scatological sense of humor shared by all-natural born Hoosiers drifts across the border and collides with the powerful vertical draft of curse words emanating from Cleveland, where foul language wasn’t invented, but it was certainly perfected. In Ohio, that particular type of storm has a colorful name, but in keeping with my vow, I’ll leave it to your imagination.
Mother did, however, have her standards. She held to the basic D-A-S-H quartet, those cuss words universally in use from the backwoods to the city centers of Ohio throughout the 20th century. The effective use of the three four-letter words in her quartet was judged in the categories of enunciation, alternative pronunciations, and overall delivery. But Mother was a veritable virtuoso when it came to coupling the lone three-letter word from her quartet with a number of other benign utterances to expand her repertoire a hundred fold. Oh, how I wish I’d inherited by mother’s creative use of the English language.
To avoid the “Hershey Bar with Almonds Syndrome” (that’s the technical term for allowing one little slip to completely de-rail a goal) I decided to incorporate a fail-safe into my no curing resolution in the form of a cursing jar. I charge myself 25 cents per slip of the tongue, with all funds collected going into the church offering plate at the end of the year. That way, one inadvertent use of a curse word will not de-rail my self-improvement efforts.
When January 1 rolled around, I placed my cursing jar on the bookshelf near my computer, stacked the five quarters I’d dug out of the bottom of my purse next to it, and went off to enjoy a movie with my husband. When I entered the theater, I did not know that “The Wolf of Wall Street” had set a new record for foul language in a mainstream film. But at least the film answered that age-old question, “How many curse words can you squeeze into a three-hour long movie?” The answer is 500. Holy Hollywood, Batman! I needed a convent and a vow of silence fast. For the rest of the evening, I mostly nodded because after the “Wolf” bombardment all the good, useful words I knew were all being accompanied by foul words in my brain. For me to speak after such an assault would cause a personal financial cataclysm.
I almost made it through January 2 without cursing…stay tuned.
Copyright © 2019 by Patra Taylor Bucher. All rights reserved.
This column first appeared in the January 2014 issue of The Charleston Mercury.