Friday, March 28, 2008

Get Out the Soap, It’s Mouth Washing Time!

Foul language bothers me. I suppose swear words can have a purpose for conveying things like extreme frustration and anger, I don’t know. The problem I have is that some people will fill a sentence to where every other word is a swear word. It muddies up the communication, and isn’t communication the reason why words exist? I mean it’s more expedient to say “Mom took the car” than to grunt “Argh arrghh argh a-argh.”
Grunting can be fun sometimes but, anyways….

I was on a packed bus and a bunch of students came on. Two teenage boys stood on the bus next to where I was seated so it was difficult not to overhear their conversation. At first they were talking about band, a language I can understand because I was a band geek. [Was?] Then one of the boys wanted to relay an incident that had upset him. Boy A already had ill feelings towards a certain girl. Fast forwarding to the part of the conversation that annoyed me, Boy A said, ‘She slapped my f-in’ face!’

My sometimes overly logical mind processed that sentence and wondered if he really meant what he said. Was he saying that it was utterly wrong for the girl to have slapped him, and in the face? Or did he mean that the girl had slapped him, but in his messed up looking face? I would add something here but you get the point. In my mind, it would have made more sense if Boy A had instead said, ‘She f-ing slapped my face.’ The sentence would have made more sense, but I still do not like foul language in public. Foul language does very little, if anything at all, to raise the esteem of someone who uses it frequently and having fallen on the ears of others.
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Perhaps what confounds me more is that people will use foul language even on technological devices. I am very slowly getting used to using instant messaging; it’s a whole other thing about why it’s taken me so long to be the slightest bit comfortable with IM.

Being a person who uses swear words extremely rarely, it’s awkward for me to be in a conversation with some who uses swear words regularly, in person or over the computer. I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know how to turn the conversation to something that would have a lower probability of the other person saying something foul. My mind will start spinning. Over IM, I’m especially dazed and quiet. I’m wondering why anyone would take the time to swear. Typing swear words, even in quick-type, whatever you call things like ‘brb,’ is completely lost on me.
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All of the rants over foul language are besides the point that I’m a Christian. I thought I would try out using swear words back in my sophomore year of h.s., I think it was. Of course, I didn’t use any of it at home. It lasted barely a week. I would pretty much choke on the words. I might’ve used three swear words the whole time. Swearing just doesn’t sound right coming from my mouth. It’s contrary to who I am, that’s the easiest way I can say it. In a moment of sheer anger or frustration, like when I stub my toe, something might leak out, might, because I’m in the moment and not thinking. I am human. Foul language was just never a part of me from before I became a Christian.

Actually, if I stub my toe or something like that, I’d rather scream ‘AHHHH!’ than utter a swear word. Swearing does nothing for me.

That’s just me. Swearing in conversation, I try to ignore it as much as possible. As long as I can carry on the conversation with the person, it’s not so much of an issue. I do have friends who swear, but for the most part they don’t swear around me. I don’t know if they’re consciously aware of the fact that I don’t swear or that I’m a Christian or if they’re subconsciously picking up on it, I can’t speak for them as to how or why it happens that they don’t swear around me. I don’t even know that they swear more when I’m not around. I appreciate them very much for being respectful in that way. I have very good friends.

I can say that most people are aware of the fact that I absolutely do not tolerate someone swearing at me, calling me a b---or something like that, not even in jest. I see it as gross disrespect; it’s one of the main reasons why I don’t swear. I want to always be respectful and not disrespectful. Anyways, I always give a warning when someone’s about to cross that line.
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Rick found that out the hard way about crossing that line. It was our freshman year at WU. Everyone in the hall was studying. Rick and I were studying for the same class in Hess’s room, Hess was studying for a different class I think. Rick was ahead of me in the book. He wanted me to test him. I said that I wasn’t there yet. He told me again to ask him some questions. I said no, I wouldn’t know what to ask or know if he’s right. Then he said something. I gently but firmly told him not to swear at me.

Not ten minutes later and Rick is at it again, test him, test him, I said no. He muttered something, and I was UP. I let him have it decisively. Of course he got defensive, but I drove the point in. I don’t remember what he was saying but it wasn’t an apology. I had enough, walked out and went down to my room.

Some time later, Keoni comes down to my room. I was somewhat aware that everyone heard the yelling, how could they not. Keoni came to see if I was okay. I had cried some because I don’t like being angry, I try to remain calm; by then I had stopped crying. Keoni said that we had gotten everyone’s attention in the hall, that’s like 7 or 8 rooms with some of them doubles, plus friends who were studying there too. None of them had seen me angry before. Then he said that I had made Rick cry. I hafta admit, that made me feel a little better if only to mean that Rick had learned the lesson. I didn’t know I could make someone cry but for all I know Keoni could’ve been lying to me about it.
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Maybe Rick had learned the lesson, that year. Sophomore year goes by alright. We still hung out with the same people basically. Junior year, I lived off-campus with a couple friends. Jeep [nickname] was taking me and Ripple back to my apartment to pick up some materials. We were almost out the door when I turned back and saw Rick at his desk nearby holding his favorite digit in the air up high.

Let me explain here that yes, it was directed towards me. If people didn’t know about me, they definitely knew not to mess with Jeep. Rick wouldn’t give the finger to Ripple behind Ripple’s back because they’re friends, they’re on good terms. Even people who had not been in the hall to witness the first incident knew that I didn’t care for Rick and most likely vice versa.

And he thought I wouldn’t see it. I don’t know what I was looking back for, but I saw it. I walked back over, grabbed his finger, put it down. He was startled and scared. He got defensive, this time saying sorry, sorry, he didn’t mean it. Bold-faced lie. I ingrained the lesson into him as deep as I could this time. I said things like he knew not to do that to me, didn’t he understand that not swearing at me included the finger, is he that stupid, etc. Okay, not my brightest shining moment, I admit.

Jeep, Ripple and I walked out. We went to my apartment, picked up the stuff. Someone mentioned Rick, generally saying that they couldn’t understand how he would do that. Jeep and Ripple know me. Ripple had looked back when I was walking over to Rick, saw what Rick was doing, why I was going over, and his mouth dropped open ‘cause Ripple knew what was going to happen. It’s like a train wreck.

We got back to studio and it was pretty much quiet, some background music and soft, rather uneasy conversation because the tension was in the air. I visited at a friend’s station a little to ease me. Then I went to my station, got behind my desk, and next thing I know Rick is in my face. This time, he’s hopping mad, saying not to touch him, if I touch him again, he has a right to sue me. I shouted back that he’d better step away, that he’s an idiot, another not so bright moment. It went on for some time, it seemed like forever. Good thing for Rick that there was my desk between us and a ‘back door’ way out of my station. I went out the back and out the door.

I went behind the studio to cry the rest of the anger out. Cary and Jeep came out to see that I was alright; I don’t remember who else came out. They said that they didn’t know what to do back there in the studio, Cary had frozen half off, half on his seat, not knowing whether to stop Rick or to stop me. Jeep said she was gonna come over to protect Rick from me, she saw in my eyes that I wanted to hurt him, knowing that I could. He’s taller than me but skinny, I coulda taken him. Well, maybe not, it’s gonna remain an untested theory. They got me calmed down, we went back. Not a single incident like that ever happened between Rick and me from then on.

I hope that now, years later, Rick can forgive me. I really should have more patience and graciousness than that. I kinda wonder though, who told Rick that he’d be able to sue me? It was a rather big leap from cowering to self-righteous anger.
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I didn’t mean to go into the story that much. I said that I don’t tolerate someone swearing at me; one small exception: Ripple. I want to be honest. The reason why Ripple didn’t get chewed up is because, I suppose, we knew each other very well by our third year. We had cultivated a good friendship, I think I can say that for both of us, came by it very honestly. He would utter a swear word very softly under his breath, not directing it towards me in a personal, hurtful way, never the b--- word. Then he would give me a look to make sure I caught it. It was his ‘tell’ on me, saying that I was annoying him or that he wasn’t in the mood to be bothered and to be quiet, he’d had enough for the day. I had a tell on him also, to say the same thing, but I won’t say what it is. We never had to say another word, we knew. That’s a one-time deal; I will not let anyone else have that tell, it belongs to Ripple.

You get the picture. I’m not really going to tell someone not to swear. If I can get them to not swear, that would be good, but I’m not gonna go around randomly demanding it, it’s their choice. I think Mr. K really thinks I should help out with the youth at our church, I’m preparing to possibly do that. If I can influence a young person to keep their language clean then I’ll do that, because I believe it is right. I mean, can any peaceful arrangement take place if at least one swear word is spoken? I think Rick and I demonstrated the answer to that.

I’m not saying one HAS TO clean up one’s language around me. I’ve probably heard it all anyway. I’ve resigned myself to not understanding everything. Yes, swearing bothers me, but in the greater scheme of things, it’s small potatoes. But if anyone ever wants me to fight with them, try swearing right at me, test my new resolve to peaceable graciousness.

Do I have anything else to say on the matter? I think I’m done. Mahalo.