Friday, January 7, 2011

Insert Invective

If you know me well, you know I don't really swear. It's not because I don't know the words, I do. It stems from an off-hand remark made by a college English professor.

We had to write a short story and one of the guys in the class thought he'd be a smarty and write a story filled with expletives. He got a "C" on it. He protested in class that she lowered his grade simply because he wrote the way people talked. Her comment, and this has stuck with me all these years, was that using expletives because it was the way people talked was not wrong. His problem was that he was using them in place of good writing. "It just means your vocabulary is so small you can't think of anything else to say. That's not good writing."

I never wanted to be seen as having a small vocabulary since I was an English major and well-read, at least by the standard I measured myself. Hence, I eschew swearing. This is not to say the occasional "shit", "damn", "ass" doesn't escape my lips, it does. Sometimes those are simply the only words to describe a situation. But the more colorful, shall we say, words don't fall out of my mouth. I just don't choose to use them. I can make my point without every other word being the "f-bomb".

This is me, not you. If your language encompasses those words, that's fine. I'm not going to tell you not to use your language around me. The only place where I can enforce a language ban is in my World of Warcraft guild. Commentary in all-guild chat MUST be PG 13. I hear the invectives all day at work. I want to play in a place where my language filter isn't going off every other word and the conversation could be printed on napkins for all to read. Besides, I think the best jokes are the ones dripping with innuendo.

My friends know this and they respect my choice as I respect their choice. Some of them self-censor and some don't and I don't love them any less for adding the swears into the sentences. Most, however, are respectful of my choice and don't use the language around me. It was with no small measure of surprise that I opened up an email received on Sunday from an acquaintance. In it, she took me to task for sending her a Christmas present. "Given your money situation, how the [bleep] do you get off sending me a [bleep] gift. What the [bleep] were you thinking?"

[Insert tongue firmly in cheek, in case you don't get the sarcasm I'm about to write.] I'm not sure I'm clear on what she's saying. I sat at my computer and re-read the email maybe 3-4 times. What I was thinking was that I valued the friendship enough to select something I thought she'd like. You need to understand, I shop all year 'round. I have, in my bedroom closet, a box that contains items I've picked up not over the year, but over many years. I'll find something in May, a candle, a widget, a knick-knack, that I think one of my friends would like and I'll get it. Into the box it goes. Then, in November, I haul everything out and think, "Whom did I buy this for?" and attach a name to it. Last year, quite a few of the gifts were named, but I had no money to ship anything, so people didn't get gifts from me. This year, I was able to ship things so off presents went.

I thought she would appreciate getting something from me. I guess I was wrong. I haven't sent back an email and I'm not sure how I'm going to phrase the reply. I'm not going to modify my purchasing habits because someone thinks I shouldn't be buying gifts. I like to do that. It gives me pleasure. If I had cash right now, I'd be hitting the after Christmas sales big time. My box would overflow with items that, in November, I'd wonder who I bought this for. I never spend more than $20 on anything and there is a lot you can get, lovely little things that don't cost $15 to mail, for $20.

So, if I sent you something for Christmas this year, I hope you didn't see it as "What the [bleep] is she thinking when she's living on a thread?" Chances are, I got the item on sale awhile ago and I just had the resources this year to send it to you. I hope you accept it in the spirit in which it's intended. If not, could you please come up with other ways to cuss me out? "What the [bleep] were you thinking?" has been used.

Beverage:  China Black tea


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