Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Curse words

Yeah, that's right. I said it. Curse words.

They have been a part of my vocabulary since early childhood. The first evidence of my using a curse was at age four. My dad and I had gone to visit his family. In driving from Georgia to Alabama, I suddenly discovered that we had left my favorite stuffed animal behind. I quickly informed my dad of this. His reaction? He kept on driving. My response? "Turn this damn car around now!" My exclamation was eventually met with a backhand over the top of the front seat. This would be after my grandmother, who was riding shotgun, said, "Why I think she just said a bad word." My dad tried to placate me by stopping at the next department store and buying me a new toy. Not good enough. My grandmother mailed my animal to me along with some new toys once I returned to California.

In first grade I knew kids from higher grades. They expanded my vocabulary. One night my mother sent me to my room as punishment for something I had done. While I sat in my room, I pulled out paper and pencil to compose a letter to my mother. It read,

"Dear Mommy,

You are a mother fucker.


I left the note on the floor in the hallway outside of my door. I regained my sanity and reclaimed the note before my mother saw it. When I was around 30, I told my mother about the note. We still laugh over it. And mention how it's fortunate that I retrieved the note as I would not be alive today if I had not.

Back in the days when I was the queen of the fag hags, I used to frequent this one place, The Pendulum. Now the reason why I appointed myself the queen was because there was not a bar in the Castro that I could enter in which they did not know me. I met this woman who tried to declare herself a fag hag but then had to back down when I asked, "When you walk into bars in the Castro do the bartenders greet you by name and offer free drinks? Do the regulars at that bar walk up and ask, 'Where have you been lately? We've missed you.' Do your gay friends start saying that you know more guys than they do? Do you get free drinks from random guys?" So back to The Pendulum. It was the place where younger African American males met older White males. On a good night there would be five women in the place. And you've got to love a place with a padlock on the women's room. They also had a DJ who shared my love of Teena Marie and a back deck. On Sunday nights the back deck action was all about dominos and Spades. Me? I'm all about the Spades action. As the game would progress, the more talk would come from my mouth. I remember one night that the guys at the table said, "Girl, you have a mouth like a sailor." My response was, "Just shut the fuck up and deal the next damn hand."

Where is this all leading? Well, now I'm teaching kids. It's kind of frowned upon if you curse in front of the kids. (Don't ask my current kids this question though. Apparently their teacher last year used to curse all of the time. Believe me. They could drive you to this. The little vultures see the look on my face and say, "Go ahead and curse. Our teacher last year did." Did I mention that I have my current job because they ran her off? Of course, they do know that I do occasionally have homicidal thoughts and that the only thing that stops me is that I love my job. Oh, and did I mention that I know the third graders who I will have as students next year and completely love them?) Woo. That was a mighty long aside. Back to the main topic. Cursing in front of kids. There is a kindergarten teacher who thinks that we should be allowed one curse per year. As each situation arises, you will think to yourself, "Do I want to use it now or save it for later in the year?" Most of us have agreed that the phrase would be, "Shut the fuck up ... now!" So this kindergarten teacher and one of the fourth grade teachers have agreed that the word that is sorely missing in our vocabulary at work is "fuck." They came up with a hand sign. Originally it involved raising your hand to your forehead and rubbing only your middle finger across your forehead. It has now evolved, as more teachers have learned about it, to patting your first three fingers over the eyebrow on that side. Our joke now is that we can tell how bad someone's day has been by the impression on his/her forehead. The best part? The kids have not figured out the code yet.

So we freely walk the hallways asking, "How [two taps to forehead] are you?" Especially bad day? The appropriate response is nonstop head taps. At least that's what I did last Thursday. We are still waiting to see a teacher with a huge dent in the forehead.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love my coworkers? If I haven't, then I have not been giving them enough credit in ability to stay sane. Oh, and props to those parents who recognize how stressful my job is and feed me or give me hugs when they see me.

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