Thursday, July 3, 2014
Writing As I Speak - A Contrast
The one thing of which I have never been accused is the title of this post; "Writing As I Speak." I don't. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, "You couldn't handle it!" The truth is, at times, neither can I! Let's just say that it's all a matter of taste. I read some blogs that are laced with profanity; veritable lessons in the use of certain words as verbs, adverbs, nouns and adjectives; sometimes all at once! Again, it doesn't make the writing; or the writer; less valid, it's just not my style. However...
Speaking with me in person can be quite an experience to someone not at ease with the use of profanity as normal grammar. But, I come by it in an honest, or as near an honest, way as possible. My Dad taught me to curse when I was about 3. It was a wonderfully glorious word; actually a compound word; having both a maternal component; making it a noun; along with an action part; making it a verb. So, it was, I suppose, a noun-verb.
The occasion of this lesson in the art of compounding different words lay in the fact that the guy who had just cut us off probably did do that with his mother when he got home. Nevertheless, with me being only three years old, the remark was probably one that my Dad should have avoided making in my presence. And, for good reason...
My immediate reaction was to ape the word in my high pitched little kid voice, which prompted my Dad to say, "Don't say that word in front of your mother." He said it with an earnest quality, one with which I was unaccustomed, and seizing upon the fear that I perceived in his tone; children are very attuned to parental fear and unafraid to employ it as a weapon; I promptly burst into the kitchen when we arrived home and denounced my mother as a fornicator of her own mother, which quite frankly shocked the hell out of her! Not to mention my Dad, who; employing the age old tactic of turning the table; said, "We don't use words like that! Go to your room!" Never much of a pushover; even at that age I knew something was amiss; I replied, "But you use that word all the time!" Stretching the truth, even when so young, was not beyond my capabilities. However, I was still banished to my room.
Over the years, growing up in Brooklyn, I was able to refine my verbal skills, and still later, 8 years at sea travelling the world, I honed my abilities in this regard; to the point that I was able to curse in about 10 languages at one point, including Greek and Arabic!
I make a really concerted effort to control my tongue when children are present, not wanting to contribute to their moral demise, and thus creating another me. But, in conversation with most adults I'm afraid that I sometimes slip back to my days at sea and "cuss like a sailor." I make no apology, for I believe, as Clarence Darrow did, that "There are too damn few words as it is, and I think we should use all of them."
So, if you meet me on the street, don't be surprised, or offended, if I speak differently than I write. When all is said and done, "It's Only me."
The photo above was taken at the “old Mill” at Avenue U in Brooklyn on Easter Sunday 1957. This was just around the time I learned to curse.
Notice how he doesn't even look down at his feet. Happy Fourth of July everyone!