Saturday, July 05, 2008

The words we use are important

I was eating a late dinner of sushi with a few coworkers last week out in Newbury Park. Somewhere between noshing a spicy tuna roll and ogling the young cacuasin/asian hostess, I dropped an f-bomb. It was innocent male to male banter. We were discussing a friend's plan to lose weight though liposuction. A few jokes passed between us. We laughed at the stupidity of the idea. Of course, i had to add, "Plus, it looks like somebody beat the fuck out of you.", when talking about the aftermath of the procedure.

I could have said "beat the stuffing" or some other innocuous word. But why do that when a well timed f-bomb can make the same point?

As I uttered the phase, I heard a sharp intake of breath near my left ear. I turned and found a small boy aged eight or nine sanding at my elbow. We was leaving the table next to mine after having finished a meal of chicken fingers. His brown hair and blue eyes were offset by the perfect circle of his lips. it was like he was about to say "oh". His eyes told me he had run into the bogie man. I quickly reached out for his shoulder and then looked into his eyes and apologized. He cringed. I looked towards his father and apologized again. The moment passed when his father said "It's ok son. the man apologized". They moved away quickly. The boy turning an arc that kept him facing me for as long as possible. There was no way he was going to let the bogie man get the jump on him.

As the boy walked away I heard him say "Nice people don't say that word, right daddy?" My head hit the table. My face burned red. I could not speak. What kind of man was I? Cussing indiscriminately in front of a child was beneath me. I felt unclean. But the moment passed.

A few minutes later a smoking hot young woman walked by our table in a black miniskirt and with a light blue halter top. My friends and I followed her every move out through the tables to the front of the restaurant... and right into the arms of a boy who was pointing back at me. I saw him mouth the words "bad man". His father gave us all the evil eye. My head hit the table, My face burned red. I could not speak. I know what kind of man I am, and it's not a stereotypical cad. I can do better.

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10 comments:

jamon said...

Well, if saying fuck makes you a bad fucker, then I'm fucked...

The Exterminator said...

The boy's father is to blame. He shouldn't have let his child rove around the restaurant without supervision. What the fuck is that fucking kid doing standing right over your fucking shoulder while you're having a fucking conversation?

I know you're being whimsical here, but your implication is dangerous. Adults should not have to accommodate themselves to children except in schools and at Disneyland. So go ahead and say "fuck" all you want to. I wouldn't necessarily defend your use of that word if you yelled it out on the "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride. But in an after-hours discussion with fellow adults at a sushi restaurant, you just go ahead and blurt out any ol' thing you want, buddy.

Chicken Girl said...

For fuck's sake, it's just a good old-fashioned anglo-saxon word. Saying a word doesn't make anyone a bad person. That's superstitious bullshit.

Mojoey said...

I think my guilt stems from the fact that I knew the boy was within earshot to begin with.

I already scare the shit out of kids with my looks alone. Heck, I made one cry at the mall just an hour ago. All I did was look at him.

Hank said...

Geez, I thought guilt was a Catholic thing. ;-)

I don't think there's anyone at fault here. It was inadvertent on your part. You weren't purposely trying to shock anyone, attract attention, etc. I don't agree with the dad teaching his kid that swearing is associated with "bad" people. There will come a time when he'll be in a position where he has to explain why he's not a "bad" man or as "bad" as the red-faced man with his head on a table.

Father Shaggy said...

I'm well-read, articulate, intelligent, and a potty-mouth. In addition, I am not a bad man (though I look scary, too.)

I have a kid now (who can't even talk yet), and I'm getting scolded all the time for the f-word, and a wonderfully diverse and colourful library of other obscenities and combinations of filth.

When I swear, I mean it, and it's never a shortcut. Be embarrassed, but not ashamed.

John Morales said...

Strange.

Mojoey, why exactly were you embarrassed? I can't find the reason in the post, and the fact that you knew the boy was within earshot to begin with shouldn't be an issue.

You didn't do anything wrong, far as I can tell. As Exterminator said, any hurt the kid suffered is due to his upbringing and imaginary.

It'd never have occurred to me to apologise in those circumstances.

Mojoey said...

The people I was eating with are working for me on a project. I was embarrassed professionally by the situation.

John Morales said...

Ah! I entirely get you now.

(I worked for EDS for a couple of years)

wwyoud said...

Ummm, if the boy recognized what you said, then SOMEONE (maybe Dad?) had said it in front of him before...

I cuss. I tried not to in front of my daughter, but bad drivers make me nuts. She's now 17 and cusses appropriately, too. No, I'm not happy about it, but I don't fret, either. She learned long ago that you can say certain words at certain times and in certain company; Jesus-F*g_Christ is best not said in front of Grandma. Besides, she told me recently that she heard most of the words on the bus or at school long before I said them near her...