. . . from using profanity while I'm in the vicinity."
My sister, Anne, and I were probably 13 and 14 years old and at the height of our cleverness when we came up with that little gem. What a perfectly polite and intelligent way to let those around us know our tender ears were being defiled by their undiscriminating vocabulary. I'm not sure we ever actually used it, though neither of us was reticent when it came to making our displeasure at the sound of foul language known to those who used it.
On one of our trips to Disneyland we heard some profanity and lots and lots of "Remain seated please. Permanecer sentado por favor", which was our inspiration for a little addition to our catch phrase, "Please refrain from using profanity while I am in the vicinity. Exit to your left and thank you for your support."
Oh, my. It really is a wonder we had any friends given our level of dorkiness. Sure we didn't actually say this to anyone but the very fact that our brains came up with it and we thought it was awesome are clear evidences that we probably did not deserve any.
Once in my 10th grade Spanish class we were taking turns reading some dialogue. When it came to me, instead of "Dios mio!" I said "Ay, caramba!" My teacher did not appreciate it and asked why I could not just read the text as it was printed. There is a slight chance that I was one of the few who understood her extremely dry and harsh sense of humor and the only one who responded with sarcasm, so she did not especially like me. When this incident happened I explained that I do not take the Lord's name in vain. She assured me that this is perfectly acceptable in Spanish. I assured her that I would not say it in any language. She stared at me in silence for a long while before moving on.
I grew up in a home where there was very, very little swearing. I remember running to my parents and tattling that one of my older brothers had said the f-word. My dad asked what he said, and I whispered in his ear, "fagot".
When my mother was at her whit's end she would say things like, "Oh, fiddlesticks!" or, on a really bad day, "Dang, dang, double dang!" I believe my dad swore on the very, very rare occasions he got really angry.
I remember the first time I ever swore when I was about 13. I had a friend who used mild swear words occasionally. She was at my house and we were sitting there chatting and I said, "What the he**" in the conversation. I stopped suddenly, in shock. My friend laughed and told me it was okay! I... started crying and never swore again until after I had children. (no more about that later)
So the concept of using bad language just to color your normal sentences is one I don't get. It seems so very jr.high and high school to me. Some of my old friends from high school still use language like that occasionally on facebook and I feel like, "did you never grow up?" The answer, of course, is "no". I mean, the answer is that they just live in a different world than I do. And also a different country.
And speaking of which: I love living in Poland. I never hear any swearing here at all. This is not because this is the only country in the world that doesn't have or use swear words, but because I don't know any of them. The only way I ever know that someone is using bad language is when my husband or children say something about it.
Teenagers over here live in the same world as teenagers (and former teenagers who became adults and still use obscene language all the time) in America . We were reminded of this one day when Greg was planning to wait in the cafe area of our grocery store while I did the shopping. As always, there was a group of teenage boys hanging out and being extremely cool. Their language was awful. Greg sat there for awhile and then told me that he could not stand it. I told him I was sorry for him and left to shop.
Forty-five minutes later I paid for the food, returned to the cafe area with my loaded cart and saw that the boys were just leaving the area. As they walked past Greg they gave him the "sup?" head tilt (what do you call that?) I asked him what in the world had happened.
He told me that one kid saw him looking at them in disgust and the kid asked Greg if he had a problem. Greg asked him if they had to use that kind of language. The kid was insolent. Greg explained that some people simply do not want to hear that kind of talk. The kid said that it doesn't bother them. Greg explained that he was sure it didn't but that it did bother many of the people who had to listen to it. It was as if this kid had never heard such a crazy thing.
The boys kept cussing but had somehow come to respect Greg for expressing his difference of opinion. They seemed to understand that he was living on a different planet than them and could respect his alien culture. Not enough to give up their swearing for a few minutes, but still.