Practiced by many, perfected by few, cussing is one of my favorite things, as Maria von Trapp said in The Sound of Music. The second my kids are gone for the weekend, it’s like Custivus around my house, at least for me. I know that “Dang!” may get my point across when my husband short pours me, but “What the fuck?” ensures that he doesn’t do it again.
I don’t cuss in front of my kids, for the most part, and I really don’t know why. Cussing isn’t exactly any worse than a few other things I expose my kids to, like the proper way to deliver a beer poolside (gently, like a butler would), as opposed to the wrong way (rolling it on its side, across a hot patio).
Actually, I do know why. I have probably kept this charade up this long because my husband isn’t a cusser, and I totally respect that. He’s a teacher, and works with teenagers. For him, there’s just something about a 14-year old kid telling another 14-year old kid to “Eat shit!” at 7:45 in the a.m. on a sunny May morning while crossing the quad that can be a bit disconcerting. Birds are chirping, lessons are planned, copies are made and BAM! It’s just a little sickening to see the disrespect – kids know adults are close by and can hear them, and they just don’t care. What I’d like to know is who is raising these little fuckers?
At this point, I’m afraid I’ve missed my window to begin cussing in front of my kids. I still get ragged on when I let even the slightest little thing slip. I can’t even get “ass” out of my mouth and I’m screwed. Wait, that didn’t sound right. Here’s what I meant:
“That a-hole needs to stop tailgating me!”
In my opinion, cussing isn’t bad, but poor timing is. It’s just plain disrespectful. That’s the part I haven’t yet shared with my kids, but I will. I’m going to let them ride the non-cussing train for as long as it works for them. If they take it up in the jr. high school courtyard tomorrow, my advice to them is, “You better not let a grown-up hear you.” However, I’ll never tell my kids this lie: “You’ll never find a nice boy/girl with a mouth like that.” It’s simply not true. I was raised by cussers, and I found a nice boy. Maybe it’s because I wore my cusstity belt for the first six months we dated in order to keep getting more dates. Pretending to like football probably helped, too.
To be clear, I’m no professional when it comes to cussing, but I know someone who is. She takes cussing to the next level – raising it to a verbal art form.
Her delivery is poetic. Uttered with as much emotion as one typically lends to words and phrases like “porch” or “grilled onions,” her F-bombs slide in, hit their mark, and exit stage right, leaving the listener both shocked and impressed. Best of all, she pulls it off while at work, and she works with the public.
More than once I’ve caught myself wondering, “Did she just drop an F-bomb while pleasantly greeting me?”
The answer is, yes. The question is, how?
She’s a bartender, that’s how. Another lost art with which I am ever-so-slightly familiar.
Her working environment is a place where people go to enjoy some booze. To be clear, they aren’t thirsty. If they were, they’d drink a glass of water at home. I know this because I, too, have earned a living as a bartender. Not only that, I once enjoyed a drink at a bar.
I have tended the full range of bars, from three-story college bars with flooded bathrooms, sticky floors and stickier doormen, to four-star dinner houses where people like to pretend they’ve never been to a sticky bar.
Of course, I did the bartending thing a little differently than my local friend does. For starters, I wore more clothing, covering fewer tattoos. I’m not judging; a girl’s just got to know her limitations. And mine were tits and tattoos, two pivotal requirements if one is to cuss and make money at the same time.
If a gaggle of nuns toddled into the bar at 2 p.m. on a Sunday, her song would remain the same. Cheery voice, breasts pointing toward heaven, huge smile, and this:
“What the fuck, sisters, what’ll you have?”
“Five iced teas, thank you.”
“You got it,” she’d declare, strolling off to the far side of the bar.
As it turns out, this bar happens to be annexed to a restaurant, so nuns as customers are not out of the question. Of course, the regular afternoon group of electricians, landscapers and shift workers have yet to see the food side of the menu. They still believe in the power of their dreams – that they’ve died and gone to rehab heaven.
Nuns and menus aside, it seems to me that if you walk into a bar, you’re stating indirectly that putting some alcohol into your body is the priority, to be replaced later by either sex or vomiting or both. Nobody is pulling any punches when they walk into a bar.
Who am I to pretend any differently?
Considering our world is vastly different than our local bartending friend’s is, our conversations with her are bittersweet – and personal. Take, for example, a recent one we had after not seeing her for awhile. We shuffled in for happy hour, late on a Friday afternoon. She was right there to greet us, staring at us with her big eyes, and big smile, ready to make our obvious state of dehydration her top priority.
Hey, there! Where the fuck have you guys been? Haven’t seen you in forever!”
“Oh, well, we’ve just been working, and tending to our four kids….”
“Holy shit, you guys have four kids?”
“Uh, yeah,” we say as we smile and nod, wondering what kind of parents we are for hanging out at a bar instead of sitting home and looking through family photo albums all weekend long while our kids are gone.
“So, what’ll you have?”
“A pitcher of vodka.”
“Hahaha. I bet!” she shoots back with a grin.
“We’re not kidding.”
“You fuckers got me!” she announces, tilting back her head as she strolls away laughing.
We smile, looking at one another fondly. I speak first.
“Did she just call us….”
“We need to come here more often.”