Sunday, December 16, 2007

May contain mature subject matter, bitches

My grandmother (and a few other family members, it has to be said) occasionally protests to the language and content of this blog. But imagine how this young lady's poor grandmother must feel. I mean, it's a given that any song entitled "Smell Yo Dick" isn't going to be all puppies and bubbles (a), but, crikey!

I've been thinking about language lately. Eric is right that my natural speech is peppered with a fair few profanities. As Papa once said: "Sometimes it just fits."

I generally like to blame my blue streak on my newsroom background. Newsrooms and radio stations are bastions of abusive language. There may be a sort of purging element to it -- if people get it all out before going on air, they are much less likely slip up and lose their jobs.

I think it also has something to do with the vagabond nature of the professions. People in local TV and radio bounce from one place to another -- they very rarely ever connect with the communities that they are supposed to be reflecting. These people have a tendency to want to stand out, a need to be seen. Being incapable of completing a sentence without using words or imagery that would get you kicked out of Sunday school is a subconscious way of getting that attention.

But there are people in newsrooms who don't swear -- they are called "managers." My dad has worked in newsrooms for most his career; I didn't hear a profanity from him until I was 18 years old.

Besides, that doesn't explain why I was foul-mouthed long before I entered the news profession. Yes, I was to be seen in newsrooms while growing up, but it's not as if KPRC was some kind of a brothel. Well, it wasn't in those days, at least. These days it's fucking Sodom and Gomorrah. Lauren Freeman has got a mouth on her that would make the drunkenest of drunken sailors blush, and Bill Balleza insists on fighting interns in Taipei death matches (b).

I don't really know where I picked it up. Various Texas playgrounds are a good start, I suppose. I had a pretty wide range of bilingual profanity and sexually-explicit imagery swimming around in my head by the time I was 8 years old. It was there, also, that I started to learn when to use inappropriate language appropriately. It only takes getting your ass kicked two or three times before you sort out that "pendejo" is worse than its English equivalent.

To that extent, I like to think that I'm not rude simply for the sake of being rude. Indeed, I have a strange set of parameters to profane-language use. On the whole, I shy away from blasphemy, for example. I've got no problem blurting out "Tit-fuck bitch face" in a moment of frustration, but I don't use "Jesus" or "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation. I'm pretty sure Sara cottoned to this fact when we were dating and that's why she started saying it. She will deny it, though. Probably by commenting: "Jesus, Chris, you think everything revolves around you." (c)

There was a short time when I tried to work extended surrealist blasphemy into speech, e.g., "Sweet Baby Jesus Christ Lamb of God Holy Saviour on a pogo stick, what are you doing?", but people tended not to get it and it took a long time to say.

I also tend to avoid the "C" word. Not so much because I find it offensive but because I don't think it sounds right in an American accent. A bit like "wanker." That word's out of fashion these days, but have you ever heard an American say it? It just comes out wrong. We spend too much time on it, as if the word is utterly foreign and we are trying to get our heads around it as it is being said.

Eric once said that one of the things he likes about me is that I say so much stuff that is politically incorrect, without knowing that it's politically incorrect. If my blog were an episode of "Scrubs" that statement would have been followed by a flashback to the time in high school I greeted Sonja Can't-Remember-Her-Last-Name for the first time by shouting at her from across a table: "You should put on a coat. I can see your nipples from here; you're going to put an eye out." (d)

The point is, I do and say things and these are the things that go through my head and I don't necessarily intend for them to shock or insult. Indeed, I have always seen myself as downright prudish.

(a) "Puppies and bubbles" is my favourite phrase at the moment. Sharon Osbourne used it a few weeks ago in reference to brother-sister duo Same Difference. After a maddening performance that featured a pillow fight, Sharon said: "That was wonderful. The only thing missing were puppies and bubbles."
No one in the audience of hooting consumers managed to catch the sarcasm.

(b) This is a complete and total lie. Please do not sue me, KPRC.

(c) And, of course, it does.

(d) That comment scored me a sexual harassment citation (ah, the early 90s in suburbia). In that brilliantly idiotic bureaucratic way that things are done, when the citation was given to me a week or so later, they refused to tell me what I had said or who I had said it to. Thus it was a ridiculous and totally ineffective punishment; it was impossible for me to correct my behaviour because I didn't know what I had done incorrectly. I only found out when Sonja called me a few months later to apologise. She had mentioned the incident to Lindsay, who convinced her that I was not being offensive, per se, just myself. In a classic example of the kind of unintentional sleaze that I am, after Sonja apologised, I asked her out. Shockingly, she said no. Dyke.


Unknown said...

The world may revolve around you but you said it yourself, Eric is right. And wow, Smell yo' dick...what a wordsmith.

Tom Parsons said...

You know, it's interesting, I lived in Taipei for four years and never saw a Taipei Death Match. Unless that refers to the traffic.

Annie said...

Unlike most bloggers, I don't say "c—" either, but only because I don't need to.