I hadn't noticed that one of the members had brought his eight-year-old son to Torah study. If I had, would the word "fucking" have come flying out of my mouth when I was expressing outrage at something the president had tweeted that morning?
It was bad enough I was in a synagogue (Reform, so perhaps that lightens my offense), and we would soon be discussing the week's portion of our holiest book. But evidently, the spiritual setting and the upcoming dialogue did nothing to tape my tongue.
"I'm so sorry," I said, hand covering my mouth after-the-fact. "I didn't see your boy sitting there."
David laughed, "Oh, he's heard worse at home." He said this as he tousled his son's hair.
"That's for sure," the kid said, likely following his dad's kindness in letting me off the hook.
I'm not sure what has come over me, but at the age of 79, I can't stop swearing. My dear daughters are aghast, with Faith pining faux Tourette Syndrome as the cause. "She can't help it," she explains to onlookers. Her face takes on a sympathetic smile as she raises her shoulders to emphasize helplessness.
Jill, who has been known to use the very same curse, rolls her eyes at her mother's latest tick.
Most of my friends, or folks who are in the audience at events where I am the guest speaker, appear to delight when I lob the swearword. "How adorable," I imagine them saying, perhaps appreciating deviations from the norm of "boring old know-it-all" on the podium.
Of course, there are some friends who are offended when I add, "fucking," as an adjective to nouns or phrases. "You're a potty mouth," one fellow says, shaking his head as if disciplining a rebellious child.
Now, I think that quaint phrase -- potty mouth -- is a clue as to why I've suddenly taken on one. Isn't that description adorably old fashioned, so 1950's? And who do we know that is attempting a break from the chains of aging, like Houdini wrestling out of his bondage.
Yes, yes, of course, me! Honestly, it's not that I'm trying to go backwards in time. As evidence is my willingness -- nay pushiness -- to announce my age at any opportunity. And I have written essays glorifying my grey hair and wrinkles. Is that the picture of a Peter Pan wannabe?
Perhaps my advanced years do have something to do with this tacky term. This new habit reminds me of the time I hit my 60th birthday and decided I wanted a tattoo as a present to myself. In a post at the time, I wrote: Achieving age 60 is a chance to thumb my nose at society, a don't-give-a-damn what-anyone-thinks time to stray from conformity. So there'll be critics; who cares? After many in my age group have endured the collapse of a long marriage, kids who grow up and leave, and loved ones who die too soon, we get our priorities straight, and a barb tossed our way is harmless.
Another explanation for this latest language lapse could be my viewing habit. "I watch a lot of quality television," I say, attempting to peg a culprit while retaining my intellectual bona fides. "HBO, Showtime, Amazon, Netflix," I list, and then add the titles that have won awards for being groundbreaking and provocative.
I certainly can't implicate my parents for my tart tongue. After all, my brother is among those calling me a "potty mouth." If my dear departed parents did swear, perhaps it was in Yiddish, and my childhood kop nish farshteyn.
As is my wont, I did a bit of research when this topic was noodling in my brain. I found this chunk, from Rebecca Roache, a lecturer in philosophy at the University of London. (Now doesn't this paint my topic with a splash of prestige? Fucking University of London!)
"Some have suggested that the sound swear words make contributes to their offensiveness," Roache says. "Trying to express anger using a swear word full of gentle, soft sounds...would be the verbal equivalent of angrily trying to slam a door fitted with a compressed air hinge."
Let's stop here for a minute and try it out yourself. See how much more satisfying my word of choice is with all of those jarring consonants.
Now, you may not be a fan of breaking taboos. And, you may even recoil at my full spelling of the offensive word. I did consider using asterisks, like f@#*ing, but then I decided that would defeat the message. So, I said to myself, "fuck-it," and spelled it out. Please accept my apologies if I've pissed you off.
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