Posted by: JDM..... | September 8, 2013

Euphemistically speaking…

Go enjoy yourself…….

Oh, jeeze, I’m OLD!

OK, this is going to come off as the Hypocrisy of the Year, so, to deflect potential derision I’ll attempt to make it funny.

The topic this morning will be the Adjective Challenged culture arising from the ashes of the youthful transgressions of folks like me who legitimized potty-mouth back during the Sixties, but maintained that traditional veneer of Victorian purity through the use of thinly veiled euphemisms. Our freakin’ offspring, however, just effing come out and drop naked friggin’ F-BOMBS like popcorn during the chase scene.

My father raised his eyebrows to “oh, crap”, but I know the “Greatest Generation” didn’t charge Omaha Beach and the like yelling…

“OK, you darned meanies, now yer gonna get it!”…

….no matter what the comic books of the Fifties said. It’s traditionally been more a matter of context, I believe, than of content. My father called it “shop talk”. Today, it is Facebook and Prime Time sit-com fare.

I remember the wincing and disapproving looks aimed my way as I went about the business of forging the foundations of my future in the accepted manner of the American male adolescent. You know: the calls from the Principal, unexplained mechanical failures and bald tires on the family car, encounters with the local police, stuff like that, and of course, despicable taste in music and fashion. Invective, strangely enough, remained largely behind the Line in the Sand that had been paternally established early on. Occasional errors in judgment or bursts of excessive exuberance tested the limits of parental tolerance, of course, with the usual variety of predictable consequences: the instantaneous appearance of a bar of soap during the pre-teen years, for example, which I SWEAR my mother kept in a shoulder holster for emergencies; grounding; loss of privileges, or financial penalties (“You don’t get your allowance this week but you still have to mow the lawn”).

I remember the time a friend of mine and I were on a mission to inspect the balsa wood model of a helicopter that was a work in progress in my bedroom. My mother was cleaning in the bathroom, and as we passed by on the way to my Boy Cave she let out a startled semi-gasp of “Eeew, a spider”, or some such comment from in front of the basin. Without missing a beat or a step, but totally ignoring any opportunity to think better of it, I cheerfully blurted out with emerging fourteen year old arrogance “Ah, no big deal, just flush the little son of a bitch down the drain.

My mother had this rather fascinating procedure reserved for such moments when she would assume a stance of faux-petrifaction, stare unwaveringly at me, and (purposely, I swear) cause all of the blood to visibly drain from her face. It was intimidating, I admit.

I went on to accumulate the remaining years of pre-adulthood nevertheless, pursuing activities in art and journalism, and starting my college adventures with the goal of establishing a major in English where I was exposed to the finer applications of the English language. Somehow, in addition to absorbing the likes of Shakespeare, Hawthorne, and Longfellow, my fluency in “ Shop Talk” became almost legendary.

Fast-forward to the present, and things haven’t changed a whole hell of a lot, except a significant portion of my hair has been confiscated, and I’ve acquired an extra hundred pounds somehow, along with plastic teeth, bifocals, and a hearing aid.

The transistor radio that made one a highly desirable mate in 1960 has metamorphosed into an entirely new species of digital electronic devices, most of which I do not own, am unaware of, have no interest in, or have names I cannot pronounce. We own two desktop computers with a combined age of seventeen years and a “laptop” that’s only two notches above a pencil and paper in terms of computational testosterone. Technology is the drug of choice in the twenty first century, and I cannot help but compare the Digital Society of 2013 to the wandering BORG uni-community of Star Trek notoriety. .

Being “connected” is touted as an amusement or a form of socializing today, but those deprived of the instruments associated with being globally wired in series tend to end up in a rubber room. It has become a Necessity of Life..

I participate, of course. There really is a wealth of information available on line that I used to have to wander the stacks of various libraries and other institutions to find. One of my hobbies for the last forty or fifty years has been genealogy, and the internet has provided me with ready access to an amazing amount of historical records and data, just like the IRS and NSA, except I can only mess with limited data on dead people while NSA knows that I just said that as well as what I ate for lunch. It all brings to mind a somewhat misapplied neologism creating the beta-idiom “Byte me, NSA….”

I occasionally like to see pictures of my grandson and other distant family members, and in the process of facilitating that pursuit I granted access, albeit unwittingly, to my sock drawer, personal papers, and glove compartment to Google and Facebook. I hate Google. I hate Facebook. They reach into your data stream, glom onto a fistful of ones and zeros, and the next thing you know some ass hole has taken his hand out of his pajama pants long enough to Instant Message a bunch of other ass holes your favorite food, color, music genre, the name of your fourth grade teacher, your sexual aberrations, if any, and who you will vote for in the next three elections. They usually get it wrong across the board, too.

My wife is a knitting-fanatic (most people have a guest room or something like that; we have a YARN room). Anyway, a couple of years ago, she was making an afghan and Googled up “granny squares” for a few hints and suggestions. The next thing she knew, she was served a platter of senior citizen porn featuring a bunch of naked old ladies doing who knows what. I guaran-damn-tee you it wasn’t knittin’. She was appropriately horrified and disgusted. I laughed hysterically. It took a while to get rid of the associated spam and junk mail, and for me to wrangle parole from the allegorical dog house

Needless to say, I guess, my “connectedness” is extremely limited, and I plan to keep it that way for as long as I can. The minute my computer or telephone threatens to assimilate me, I’m going to fake my own demise and sneak off to the wilds of Montana or Utah where I can print my own money, dumpster dive with the bears, and run around in animal skins.

I confess that I like to “blog”, too, though, and have half a dozen accounts where I fulfill my latent journalistic thirsts and pontificate about how all of the people in charge of everything everywhere don’t have a clue. I graciously provide them one and all with the SOLUTIONS. The rest of the time, I just putter away at genealogical research and draw cartoons. I try not to Google things like granny squares but, shit happens.

So, I was reading a few blogs at random to see what other people were waxing Narcissistic about and I was amazed at the F-Bomb quotient of the average medium sized rant. I mean, I’m certainly not offended by the lexicon of the “Plain Folk”. After all, much of my heritage is Anglo Saxon. But my Norman genes, which probably drove my need to be an editor in college and briefly in my “civilian” life, vibrate at such displays. I can’t help but believe otherwise well written and poignant essays are frequently derailed by the urge to modify some crucial noun or verb with a spontaneous F-Bomb.

As I said earlier, my observations here constitute acts of willful hypocrisy and I make no claim to saintly syntax, but the issue does generate one concern and one “advice-selfie”.

My concern, though more editorial in nature than a case of wrinkly-forehead worry, would be the impact all of this no-boundary soul-baring and public flexing of invective musculature will have when practitioners of the digital glass house lifestyle and aficionados of America’s currently popular blue-ink, flame throwing lexicon decide to transition to career paths that require more traditional social skills than those which may be gleaned from the connected isolationism and alleged anonymity of the digital dimension.

My advice-selfie is simply to try harder to access the more socially neutered yet brutally obscene and stinging vocabulary and styles of the Old Masters of language. There are few things more rewarding than receiving a smiling but slightly hesitant “thank you” from someone whom you have just likened to a diseased sea cucumber with a single brain cell programmed to do no more than trigger eversion in its host for the purpose of excretion.

One particularly annoying facet of this age of “connectedness” is that, as an extension of the already mentioned shrinking or elimination of personal space, we seem to have mis-bred a whole societal sub-group who self-anointed themselves as sole parsers of the cultural mores and of acceptable communication procedures. The simple act of telling an obnoxious neighbor to “kiss my ass” can segue into anything from an indictment for sexual harassment at best to a trip to Guantanamo Bay as a suspected terrorist at worst. While being direct and telling the truth may still be taught as valued interpersonal behaviors, the rapidly expanding PC Police are making it a good idea to say everything twice: once quietly and invisibly behind non communicative, unfocused eyes, once out loud or in writing, with the secondary, public version being a carefully edited version of the first.

Trying to obtain a decent job, or advance in one’s career, or indeed to belly up and dine from life’s privileged trough today, one has to successfully pass through a series of filters designed to weed out actual or potential terrorists, racists, homophobes, molesters of all stripes, political extremists (anyone not registered with the party of the incumbent), people who drive gas-hogs and own stock in Exxon, people who picked on younger siblings or teased the family guinea pig, and more. I’m sure it’s an ordeal, and I’m glad I retired a long time ago and, at least in the employment milieu, no longer have to give a northbound rat’s south end if I piss off the powers that be…..not that I ever did anyway.

But, today one has to be careful. Witness the old fool in southern Maine who Facebooked some ill conceived combination of thoughts involving a current political figure of note juxtaposed with certain activities one might engage in during hunting season. He didn’t have time to cough or spit before guys with bulges in the armpits of their suit jackets and wearing electric sunglasses stopped by for coffee.

Now, if he had simply mentioned that he f—-g despised the f—-g f—–head and f—–g wished he’d f—–g go f—- himself, he’d have hardly raised a ripple.

Wtf………, to coin an acronym.


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  1. I LIKE it!! Keep it up, Jeff.

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