Friday, August 6, 2010

The F-ing Limit

Today was the day.
Today I reached my limit.
Today my personal boundary reared it's head and said , "Stop. No more."
No more what?
No more F-word.

The first time I heard that most profane of the conversational profanities, I was in bed, upstairs in my parents house. My dad was a jazz musician, and parties at our house were musical, loud with laughter and well attended by dear neighbor-friends. Dad was one of those brilliant "fix anything" kind of guys, so he built our fancy home Zenith High Fidelity stereo system, complete with dishwasher sized speakers. It was from those speakers that I first heard Redd Foxx utter that word, the f-word. The word that would stop conversations, stop the car, stop the actual rotation of the earth upon it's mere single-syllabic, four letter verbal arrival. I certainly recognized the limit then, so how has that word so slyly slinked into an incarnation of mixed company acceptability?

It's not like I haven't heard or used that word myself. Are you kidding? I've been a bartender, a Harley rider, a life partner and a 35 year member of the working world. I'm clearly not an f-word virgin. Looking back, I just remember the importance of placing that word carefully for maximum impact.

But now I keep hearing everywhere. At the grocery store, in stores with fine china and dressing rooms, in church parking lots (!), in school corridors, airport terminals and on airplanes. My husband and I were in one of our community's newest and fancy restaurants having dinner. It was late and there were only 2 or 3 tables of people. There was a group of people across the dining room, noisy and profane. Unfortunately, the loudest and most f-bomb-ingest was a well know local retired athlete and his. "posse." My husband was waiting for the manager to go over and deal with it, as we could see his discomfort increasing, but, alas. No spine in that manager. We just ate quickly and left. I really regretted not saying something myself, but the mental rehearsals I had gone through were never any better sounding than a whiny sounding woman.

But today was the day. During one of my yoga classes, and for the zillionth time, I was posing, flowing along in my practice,...and there it was. The music mix that our teacher was using had a couple of f-words flying through the room of noble peace, and I had an opening! Maybe it was me, maybe it was my 12 year old niece beside me, but I couldn't let it go. When our teacher came over to correct my pose, and another f-lyric smacked me in the side of the head, I looked at her and asked..."Really? Do we need that kind of language in a room with noble respect and young students?". She was very apologetic and a little undone that she hadn't noticed it herself. I kept looking at my niece, and thinking that if I didn't say something, she would think I thought it was alright. It wasn't, and I did what I could do to fix it. I don't want to stop going, I just need it to be alright. Peaceful. Non-violent. Safe.

When my husband and I were young parents, we heard (I think in church) that "Whatever parents tolerate in moderation, our children will tolerate in excess."

Today I stopped tolerating that.

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