I grew up in a bilingual household. No big deal. But, it’s not what you think– like Spanish, French, German, Hindi, or Hebrew. No. I cuss in filter and unfiltered language.
For example, the other day while driving: “Good gravy! What the heck? Stupid fucking douche bag.”
My dad was a Marine, which should pretty much explain it. Occasionally he would mumble more under his breath, but usually it was a full onslaught of unfiltered and creative swear phrases even when we were toddlers. Now, my mom was the filtered-make up a replacement cuss word person. Not to say she didn’t you know say “shit”, or “damn” or our middle names. But usually she was the cussing cushion-er of the family. She tried to counter act my dad’s unfiltered rants by recreating cuss words into kid friendly terms.
Alas, we all know that kids will gravitate to what they aren’t supposed to do. My sister is five years older and was known through the school and the neighborhood from an early age to have a fluent if not impressive use of curse words. My mom lived in denial of this. No blond haired blue-eyed little girl of hers would ever say such things.
Now, my sister would teach me to say certain words because she liked to hear my young voice try to say some words. Now some were new to me, and I didn’t know they were bad, some I did. She first taught me “piss.” I repeated it in normal conversation one day much to the horror of my mom. I told her I didn’t know that it was bad because my sister said I could say it. Now, we know that my sister denied this. So there I sat on the fireplace being lectured about my potty-mouth and what horrible example of a young lady I was. “Did I hear my sister saying such words? Did I?” Of course I did but there was no point and just took the tongue lashing.
So while my mom was venting, behind her my brother and sister were trying not to laugh and making faces at me. Afterwards, they made fun of me and tried to get me to say and learn other words. I resisted and took on more of my mom’s editing.
This editing was not so clear-cut in all households. I soon found out that in some southern and religious households that a dang was just as bad. My mom and I were visiting her new friend and her daughter was my age. We were happily playing outside, and I said dang about something. My new friend’s reaction was like I had said mother fucker. She gasped and whispered, “We don’t say bad words in this house.” I was confused. I thought I had edited already, but I didn’t because according to my new friend Jesus didn’t approve of “dangs” either. I had just made Jesus unhappy. Her mom found out why her daughter’s face turned pale. She reacted like the devil had appeared and cut the throat of young infant right in front of her. My mom was sure I had done something far worse than saying dang, but I assured her I hadn’t this time.
So, I guess I started blending the two languages. One for safety and one for appropriate venting. When I catch myself, blending the two languages, I remember my youth and the blessing of being brought up in a bilingual household. I feel fortunate to seamlessly go back and forth in one sentence. I have been able to share my language with my unfiltered husband. He enjoys hearing the strong sound of “good gravy!” coming from the kitchen and answering back, “Language!” But, he now knows that when I say full on dammit, that it is serious and a happy response won’t be needed-ever.