Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Language, Please!

I've always seemed "good". Your opinion of me might change drastically between the second and tenth time you talk to me because I seem to carry this shield of goodness or properness or uptightness.

Way back in third grade, I remember this girl named Angel, and she always had the right answers. But, that girl, you could not ever hear what she had to say, because she whispered every word she said. And the teachers gave conspiratorial winks as they urged this precious doll to give them the right answers.

Maybe you've known me a long time, and maybe you're thinking I was just like that, but no. Think back! I did not start talking in class until 4th grade and then I spoke right up. Why bother talking if you're not right AND heard? I had learned a little from the whispering Angel.

It was in 4th grade that I learned I had a double identity. Mrs. F was telling my mother that I looked like a cherub, all sweetness and light, in my beautiful red holiday dress and my hair in braids for the school Christmas performance of "The Night Before Christmas". My mother looked at her from beneath her eyebrows and said, "You don't live with her and she's no angel!"

This went on and on. People would meet me, think I was all proper and girly, and never notice that I did not own any lace-trimmed socks. Then, I would get comfortable and suddenly start saying what I thought, and they would be taken aback.

Here I am, one year from forty. I now can drive a bigger than small tractor, I milk a cow every day, I can carry more water in a morning than many of you probably haul in a week, I know the difference between bind weed and morning glories, and I am a pro at cleaning the vents of new chicks. And I hereby declare my right to swear in front of adults.

(There are some friends that I know would be terribly uncomfortable if I indulged this whim in their presence, and I have not lost sight of kindness.)

I know some say it shows a lack of imagination and a weak vocabulary, and I guess I don't care. It sure feels good to let a colorful word or two fly when I've been mowing pasture with a push mower for an hour and I hit a stray piece of fence that lashes into my leg. When the children are in bed and I'm describing an exciting moment with the cow, I will share my exact thoughts, which will definitely include a couple of curse words. And I'm tired of politely substituting all the work around words that everyone is silently translating into the word I actually mean.

Maybe, when I'm an old woman, I will wear purple, but for now, I think I'll just curse a blue streak.

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