October 3, 2000
I'm the owner of a potty mouth. I have a collection of well-used curse words, many of which get used each and every day of the world. But I rarely use them in this journal, and I am particularly careful to refrain from the stronger (above "damn") level when I'm around people I don't know. It just isn't something I need to do.
Before you start lecturing on censorship and freedom of speech---if I choose not to use a word, it's because I don't want to use it. Just so we're clear.
Because there are such strong reactions associated with profanity, my mother always cautioned me to be careful where I used the "collection." Her point was that people should know you before they knew you had such colorful words in your vocabulary, so that they wouldn't just think of you as a potty-mouth.
I knew on one level she was right, but it never really sunk in to me until I was witness to an almost-monologue presented by the trashiest-mouthed human I have ever met. And I had not met her before the day in question.
Every sentence the woman said contained something profane. She also felt the need to go into great detail about what she liked in terms of sexual activity. While none of her preferences were unusual, listening to them being described in this particular setting was!
In case you're wondering, this was in an office supply store. And although I could have left, I was with some friends who knew the woman. It was to them that most of her remarks were addressed. I was caught in one of those awkward situations where I wasn't quite sure how much my leaving would be noticed. I did edge away a bit---luckily, I'm known to be interested in office products, so I spent a great deal of time reading labels on reams of paper.
Afterward, I didn't say much about it to my friends. But I wondered why this woman had felt such intimate things needed to be said in front of me.
But I'm actually glad this embarrassing situation happened. It was before my mother's death, so I had a chance to tell her that I finally understood what she meant.
And I have remembered.