F Bombs, Soap and Water, and Cleaning Up a Dirty Mouth
I’m not like other women. I tend to avoid girly activities like lingerie parties, pedicures and spa days. I’ve had one manicure in 57 years. My girly sister treated me to it so I would be presentable at her son’s wedding. And Spa days seem so upper class, the kind of thing Paris Hilton might enjoy, but me, not so much. I dislike that bitch. I also don’t watch girly TV, you know Dancing with the Stars or The Voice or Dr. Oz or The Bachelor. Wallows in lameness. And I’m sure that if there is a hell, it is pretty much a 24/7 big screen in your face Life Time Network marathon continuously for all f’in eternity. Which makes me want to be really, really good. I have never thrown a “dinner party” or worn pearls, and I don’t wear earrings or diamonds or a wedding band for that matter, which is okay since the only place I get hit on anymore is in Nursing Homes and those guys are harmless. I’m old enough now that it actually stokes me a little. In summary, I am one cheap date.
It must be the male influences. After my sister Judy was born my four older brothers took on more responsibility for my upbringing and therefore had more influence on me. Mom was busy with her new baby girl and Dad had his job and his golf and was pretty much over kids by then. At three and a half I was already old news, a snot nosed toddler, likely with an attitude, so the folks must have figured if my brothers hadn’t killed me yet, they probably wouldn’t. And besides, they had another girl now, so I was no longer the charmed child in the family. I was expendable. It was possibly a questionable life choice for my parents to allow their four little gangsters to raise their oldest daughter. It certainly wasn’t charm school. There was a lack of proper feminine influence at a crucial time in my development is what I’m saying. That’s why I’m different. I’m sure of it. Then again I may just have a hormone problem.
I do know one thing though–my brother’s taught me to have fun. Lighten up, don’t take yourself too serious. They did this with a carefully planned curriculum, a combination of ridicule and the singing of belittling songs—music therapy of sorts. They were ahead of their time, experimenting with this form of treatment decades before it was clinically recognized as therapeutic. I was their cute little brown eyed lab rat. If I whined, complained, said something stupid, or was generally annoying in some way, which of course I NEVER was, it was turned into a song. Actually a taunt paired with a catchy melody, which made me mad, which resulted in more melodious taunts until I would fly into a rage and hit one of them and they would hit me back and I would start to cry. Which was the whole idea in the first place. Clever boys.
We were a very musical family. My brother Joe was the song leader. He was kind of a cross between Mitch Miller and Chris Rock. He made up dirty little ditties and we all learned the words and melody and sang along. I had only the vaguest idea that what we were singing might be inappropriate. What I did know was that we all thought our little songs were freakin hilarious. I once made the mistake of performing one of our original compositions in the presence of my mother. Once. I thought she might enjoy the humorous antidote. She did not. Let’s just say she was not pleased and said she couldn’t imagine where I picked it up. I don’t think I finked Joe out, but Mom was smart, she knew a scoundrel when she gave birth to one. She did.
It really wasn’t until I was an adult and I would ask people “Do you remember the song “Hello to Gertrude?”, you know the one “She’s a horses ass……”, and they would look at me like I was a rabid squirrel with a dirty mind, that it dawned on me–NOBODY else’s family sang these songs. Just us. It’s actually pretty impressive. My brother Joe was a child protégé lyricist. He was cranking out completely original tunes and at such a tender age! All that time I really thought they were the same childhood songs every family sang amongst siblings. My childhood was so special that way.
Apparently Joe, who grew up to be a navigator on a Naval Submarine as a young man, was probably born to be a sailor. From all accounts, well, from Phil’s account of things, his mind was in the gutter from a very early age. And he didn’t seem to have a clue that his mind was perhaps lingering in places that the normal eight year old boys mind wouldn’t be visiting for at least another four or five years. He was very advanced that way. Adults generally held a dim view of his accelerated development, especially Dad.
But hey, lots of families enjoy singing campy tunes and we were no exception. Dad was a total ham who was known to, after a few drinks at a wedding, stand up and belt out a tune or two. His favorite was a peculiar version of the old tune “Pennies From Heaven.” Dads version was about a GI coming home from the war to find he has a newborn son, the punchline of the song being “every time I ask, you say, Bennies’ from Heaven.” So maybe it was an inherited gene or something.
And it didn’t help that Dad was a former drill sergeant whose language was peppered with four letter nouns, verbs and adjectives. I don’t think he understood how impressionable kids were. He certainly didn’t expect his beautiful daughter to grow up to be so intelligent, articulate and foul mouthed. I guess he figured I would take after Mom who didn’t swear much at all. Mom was so different from the rest of us. She had more grace. But like I said, she was busy with my sister and I was busy being schooled in the finer points of swearing like a slut and telling raucous jokes. I’m sure I could hold my own in a room full of sailors by the time I was ten. Sadly I never got the opportunity.
So I pretty much started dropping the F-bomb on a regular basis in around fifth grade, just for effect. It used to send my friend Mary Ellen into fits of laughter, which made me do it more frequently and with more gusto. Then her Mom would invite us in for lunch and I would be as polite and well-mannered as a Catholic schoolgirl eating lunch with the Pope. Mrs. Ryan would comment on my manners and grace, and at such a young age! Of course Mary Ellen would be snickering, poking me in the ribs and giving me these sideways glances as if to say “right, why don’t you drop one of those F-bombs right now you phony baloney.”
But I knew how to comport myself like a graceful, astute young lady when I had to. Mom taught me how to behave in public and I knew there was a line that should not be crossed. I learned this the day I watched her wash my sister Judy’s mouth out with soap when she was like four years old.
It was terrifying. Judy, Mom and I were home together and for some reason, it couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with me, Judy started randomly yelling the F word in her squeaky little voice.
Prepare yourself for profanity below the dotted line!
What did you say? Don’t say that!
I told you not to say that. STOP!
WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? STOP IT RIGHT NOW!
FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!!
I will wash your mouth out with soap if you say it one more time.
The first time she did it I thought it was funny and I was kinda proud of my little sister. But when she kept doing it, I got scared. Mainly because I thought Mom might ask her where she heard that word, (which would have been ludicrous because the F-bombs flew around that house like flies, especially when Dad was working on home improvement projects.) But I was afraid Judy might suggest that I had somehow inspired her enthusiastic utterances of the latest addition to her four year old vocabulary.
And when she just wouldn’t stop, I thought maybe Mom would wash her mouth out with soap and that perhaps my baby sister might die from soap poisoning and that it might somehow be my fault, and I would never forgive myself because I really did love the little twit.
So finally, after Judy screamed FUCK! About twelve times, Mom grabbed her puny little body and hauled her into the bathroom and lathered up her hands and slathered soap into her mouth and damn my sister didn’t even try to bite her. She just screamed bloody murder and cried and my mother yelled at her to NEVER EVER SAY THAT WORD AGAIN! For a moment I was worried she might yell it the minute Mom let her go, but she didn’t. She was lifeless, like a little puppy after a play date with a guy named Lenny.
I watched it all from the bathroom door absolutely stupefied. What the hell had gotten into that kid anyways? But I was also thinking what a good person she was because she didn’t bite Mom’s hand like some other bratty four year foul mouthed kid probably would have. I was a little pissed at Mom for over reacting like that too, and Mom was REALLY upset because she rarely lost her temper, but she clearly could not stand for four year olds dropping atomic F bombs casually around the house that way. So that is how I learned that there was a time and a place for profanity, especially F bombs, and it was not around adults. So now I only drop them around children.
©2016 by Ilona Elliott