I originally considered calling this post “Lentblogging” — but that has all the appeal of “Watching-paint-dry-blogging”, so I went with something a bit zippier.
Wednesday, as most of you probably know, was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It’s a long-standing Christian tradition to give up something for Lent. Last year I gave up alcohol. This was successfully accomplished, but rather than feeling disciplined and devout, I mostly came away from the experience with a sense of how incredibly LONG six weeks can be.
So this year I’m trying something different — I’m giving up swearing. Over the last decade or more I’ve become quite the casual cusser, swearing often and enthusiastically with the proficiency of a Portuguese longshoreman. This not only violates the Second Commandment — that’s “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain” for those of you living in communities with active chapters of the ACLU — it has two other negative effects: 1) It is extremely rude to those around you; and 2) It makes you look like a slack-jawed mouthbreathing moron. I do NOT want to become one of those people — and we all know a few — who uses profanity as a sort of conversational Hamburger Helper: “Yeah, my effing cousin Ed called me on the effing phone at three-effing-a.m. last night and tells me his effing girlfriend effing wrecked his effing pickup…”
My most embarrassing experience with swearing happened about a year or so ago. I was chatting on the phone one evening with my nephew Brian (then seven or eight years old) while preparing dinner. I had set a small glass of milk on the diningroom table, walked into the kitchen to fetch something else, and came back to see that one of the cats had jumped up on the table and tipped over the milk, creating a huge white lake on the floor, which the other cat was dabbling in (I no longer remember which cat did what). At this point I popped a fuse and yelled (the following transcript has been euphemized for the protection of those with delicate sensibilities):
OH [invocation of Judeo-Christian deity] [verb requesting that said deity condemn to perdition] IT!!! YOU [verb describing sexual intercourse]-ING CATS!!!
All of this charming discourse went directly into the tender ears of my young nephew, courtesy of Garden Valley Telephone Company. It was NOT my finest moment, but on the plus side, I probably gave Brian a good story to tell at my wake someday.
So I’m taking advantage of Lent this year to attempt to clean up my vocabulary. I’ve slipped a few times already, though not as spectacularly as during The Dreaded Milk Incident. Wish me luck — and if you’re in the mood, post a comment telling me what YOU’RE giving up for Lent. Just keep your language clean!