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Archive for September, 2013

Obseen and Obsheard

For weeks I’ve been wrestling with the loss of obscenity in the USA lexicon. I won’t say that radical profanity has disappeared from America because I’m not living in Canada, Central America and South America and I don’t know how things are there(s).  USA, I’m writing to you.

It appears to me that “F” is the new “damned.” I don’t write (obseen) or speak (obsheard)  the word, because I consider it a word of last resort.  I’m not a Puritan . Put me next to an attractive, consenting, affectionate female on clean sheets, and I’m game for anything. I don’t believe there is intrinsic “evil” in any word.  I have not met the word which will harm me or harm a friend or unfriend when heard or seen.  Still, I would rather say “feces” or semi-“solid waste effluent” than S.  Without wandering too far from the point of this ramble — which is F — I would like to know if S is the worst thing you can say about something. “Conger, this  little snit you’re writing is nothing but S!”  Is that the best you can do, stranger? If you called it bullS instead, would you expect me to feel more regret or shame because bullS is more disgusting to the senses? Does bullS have an added ingredient that imputes more woe to the subject when used in metaphorical descriptions?

“Tommy said my poem was S. If he thought it was really bad, I guess he would have called it bullS, so I will feel a modicum of solace from that Tommy’s holding back and count my blessings. It could have been worse, you know.”

What is YOUR worst obscenity? Can you print it? When do you say it?

Using F as an adjective or adverb — “Mind your own F’ing business”. . . “I F’ing love science.” — has crippled the formerly overwhelming power of the word. Despite the watering down, some expressions still have shock value: “F you” for example. The hateful expression  is one reason I don’t like to see the word used by third graders and “growed ups” who think like them. Dick Cavett used to suggest to verbal sparring opponents, “Why don’t you take a walk into the lake until your hat floats?” The classic “Go to hell!” also makes the point. Today as society falls prey to the waning presence of religion as a shared thread of our social fabric  hell no longer carries the weight it did when religion was a comfort and not a threat. That’s sad, a loss for all of us.

The connotation of HATE in F conflicts with what is implied when talking about what a songwriter called “making whoopie.” We don’t like to call it “making love,” when we’re just having fun with someone we don’t want to love. Love implies significant commitment. And even when people who are in love are “making love,” let’s be honest: they’re not “making” anything except, a reason to change the sheets in the morning. They might be “making” a zygote. They are sharing mutual appreciation, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Love is beautiful. So where does the hate come into that activity? All I see in the word “Fing”, on a bed, on the beach, in a tree, wherever. . . is disdain. “It was nothing serious, Conger, we were just Fing.” Call me Mary Poppins, but for some of us, that activity is serious. Always passionate, often joyful, affirming, satisfying, and serious. I still don’t understand the hate element.

Perhaps, I’ve got it reversed. Perhaps I don’t understand the love element.  Jim tells Larry to go mind his Fing business because Larry’s Collie pooped on a mutual neighbor’s front yard as Jim watched. , Jim may be expressing the hope that Larry find a partner and relieve the tension that drove him to be such a raving lunatic following Jim’s initially gentle cajoling and suggestion that Larry become acquainted with a pooper scooper and baggies. But I think not. I believe that Jim was not being loving at all.  I believe that Jim’s verbal recommendation had nothing to do with a constructive hope that Larry would consider a better way relieve his tension than by screaming at his neighbor after a gentle admonition. I believe that after Larry “lost it,” Jim lost it too.  Loving had nothing to do with it.

The anger present in the urging of an offender to go F himself/herself makes this word unfit for intimacy.  I know there is such a thing as connecting on clean sheets with hostile thoughts, despite two adults consenting without threat. There is “revenge sex” often engaged from a perspective of jealousy or disappointment over an unwanted decision or act by a formerly loving partner. People connect consentingly for more reasons than I’ve experienced, more reasons than I can count, probably. The only place where I acknowledge “F” in the vocabulary as valid is that when mutual consent is not part of the dynamic, and then it is a crime. We call it rape.

The word does not belong in everyday, all ages society.  I do not believe we should “”censor” it out. I believe we should never place the word into everyday parlance to begin with. There are Facebook sites with “Fing” in their titles, that deliver interesting content, I am told, but I will never “Like” them.

You tell me to go mind my own Fing business. The state of my world IS my business. I turn my eyes from pictures and videos of people dying. The loss of the space shuttle Challenger exploding as it ascended skyward from its launching pad, a person lying dead in the street from a motorcycle accident, yes, even a dead animal run over 20 minutes ago in the traffic lane on my way to work. I steer around these things. I steer around F because it is my business.

I don’t fear the word. I don’t believe those who share it like candy are bad people. I think they share it like grape jam because to some, it smells like grape jam. To others it smells like S.

And I won’t touch it.

Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper.

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When I approached the checkout registers at the Shop ‘N’ Save supermarket on North Grand a few weeks ago, I saw a familiar checkout person chatting with someone who was paying her for the provisions she had just purchased. Her checkout lane light — which, had it been lit would have indicated the register was open for other customers — was dark. This happens sometimes: the employee takes a last customer before she goes on break or departs the store after working her shift. It’s not a big deal, her light was off, I knew it would be rude of me “not to see it” and present myself for checkout, fully understanding she’d probably point to the light she had turned OFF and advise me to step to register 4, the nearest lane where the “register open” light was on.

I consider myself a considerate, frequent customer, and I walked directly to register 4. As I stood in line behind two others awaiting checkout at #4, I glanced back at register 2 and found another customer being checked out! The register light was off, so I decided the woman had simply forgotten to turn it on.

As I left lane 4 another customer moved in behind me, taking my place. There would be more delay if I were wrong. There would be no turning back. And I approached register 2, whose light was still out. As I approached and made eye contact with the register person, she spoke to me, stating her register was CLOSED and I should go to another lane. Register 4 was available, she said.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I thought you were closed too, until I saw you checking out the customer who just left and your light was off. I thought you were in service after all.”

Like a good American, I returned to register 4 and breezed through checkout. But I was disappointed with the checkout person at register 2.

Walking past that person who didn’t care enough about a regular customer with four items to purchase to spend another 35 seconds being nice, I strode to the service counter which was in hearing range of the person who was closing out her register. I explained to the woman who approached me at the I wanted to register a complaint. I said very calmly that I was not fuming mad; no smoke was coming out of my ears, but I was disappointed. I explained what had happened at register 2.  I said I thought that showing favoritism like I had witnessed works against the benefit of the store. I thought there was no reason for it. The checkout woman and I knew each other on sight. I would have recognized her — in the SHE: “Shop ‘N’ Save register checkout person” and ME: “chatty customer who buys a lot of deli salads, Jif Extra Crunchy and Carlo Rossi Burgundy” sense of the term — if we passed each other on a downtown sidewalk. I said there needed to be a consequence for the woman’s rudeness —  which (I must concede) might have been simple absent-minded ditsiness. She had shown me that latter element of her character a few times over the years when she had checked me out. I explained it was nothing MAJOR MAJOR, and I was fairly certain the checkout person would not be told of my dis-satisfaction, so I had decided to find another regular supermarket for grocery shopping. If I could find  a store I could visit regularly and be happy, I’d never come back to Shop ‘N’ Save.

So I tried. The short version is that less than a week later, I needed iced tea mix, peanut butter and Carlo Rossi. I went to the ALDI market on North Grand a few blocks east of S’N’S. Result? BARF BARF BARFOLA. So I visited the Dollar Store next door to ALDI.  Result: QUADRUPLE BARFOLA.  Then I visited the new County Market that opened last winter close to Memorial Medical Center. Result: more of what I experienced at ALDI and the Dollar Store. The details don’t matter. I don’t want to bash any business.  One person’s ambrosia is another person’s bull droppings, and vice versa.

What to do? Lord, Lord Lordy what to do? I was determined to be as good as my word to the woman I dumped on at the service counter the week before. I had sworn to deliver my kind of JUSTICE to that market! I had the POW-wa! It was my deliverance of my political sanction against the Springfield equivalent of intransigent IRAN! I had to SHOW them! And I did. I went without wine for the next three nights and  ate every kind of food I had remaining in the house until there was nothing left, not even for lunch. I did not want to drive all the way across town to make good my vow not to return. Fuel is too expensive. So is my time.

I showed them all right. I showed them my presence about a week and a half after the showdown at register 2. This “justice” I had mercilessly inflicted on a store that didn’t need my money, really, came at a price I could not afford. The price of justice was too high.

True, I will scout who’s working the checkout lanes before I commit to waiting in one, and I will be the last in a line of 10 customers before I return to my arch-nemesis with brown hair, glasses and a drawl that isn’t really a drawl at all; it’s just slow talking.  I did the best I could, and I’m the better man for it.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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