Tuesday, July 11, 2017


I grew up in a home of strict linguistic control. Like my mother's system of a place for everything, words must also find their appropriate usage, and some she discarded from the familial lexicon entirely. 

Precise terminology for bodily parts and function demanded "navel" instead of "bellybutton," "bottom" instead of "butt" or "bum," "breast" or "bust" instead of "boobs," never a reference to nipples, "mucus" instead of booger, "dirty" or "feces" instead of "poop," "use the bathroom" instead of pee, "rectum" rather than anything else it might be called, "throw up" as a noun instead of "puke," and "crotch" for the genitals unless the need for detail required "penis" or "vagina," although I rarely heard either word used and only in a whisper.

Swearing shouldn't even wonder at finding itself out of the question, but my mother placed off limits euphemisms as well. "Jeez" was too much like "Jesus," "gads" too much like "god." "Heck," "crap," "piss," and "dang it" were out of the question, while "darn" and "shoot" received a pass. Name-calling  jeers fell into this category, which excluded use of "dumb," "stupid," and "retard," but made room for "jerk" and "idiot." These latter two words my mother was especially skilled at using during fights with my father, and occasionally she bent her own rules enough to deftly utilize "jackass." 

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