Thursday, March 27, 2008

The lady with the potty mouth

I love walking our dog. It connects me with the neighborhood in ways that just wouldn't happen otherwise. Sometimes, however, I think I could do without some of these new connections.

Case in point: the lady with the two collies. Last month, I took the dog out for his nighttime walk as pea soup fog started to roll in (see this entry for a view of the next morning.) After a couple of warm, wet days, the rapidly cooling temps had turned the sidewalk into an ice rink. I half-walked, half-skated as I tried to rein in our exuberant puppy and keep myself from face planting.

A block away from the house, I saw a lone figure approach with two dogs. I stood well off to the side to allow her to walk past. Our dog is, um, very animated when he sees other dogs. He barks incessantly as he tries to meet his new furry friends. He's all noise and no fight - he just wants to say hi - but I'd rather not let him get near other dogs because you just never know how strange animals will respond.

Upon seeing me holding the dog close, the woman - an elderly lady who's clearly in love with her bottle of Miss Clairol - proceeds to stop and talk to her dogs. Then she talks to me. About the weather. I'm really hoping she just goes away because I want want my dog to stop yapping. But this woman wants to chat. And she's blocking my way.

Then she drops the f-bomb.

I think I'm hearing her wrong. A lady old enough to be my mother certainly wouldn't swear in front of a complete stranger, would she? As I mull this question over, she swears again. No doubt about it this time. She's really p----d off about the f----n weather and the f----n city that can't clean the f----n sidewalk properly. I politely nod agreement, then nod a few more times - with a few uh-huhs thrown in in feigned interest - before I finally motion that my dog really needs to finish his walk. She lets me pass and that's that.

Until this week. This time, she surprises us out of the dark (a senior citizen stalker. Great.) Frasier starts to bark. Her dogs growl. First word out of her mouth? "S--t." And loud, too.

This woman's a serious potty mouth. I look her straight in the eye, and in my most serious voice, say, "Well, it's lovely to see you tonight, too." I then turn, call the dog, and he obeys me perfectly as we walk into the darkness, away from this lonely, filthy-mouthed retiree.

I guess I've made my first dog walking connection. Ew.


Sleepypete said...

I'll swear occasionally I tend to save it up for special occasions. Like when you really mean it :-)

Swearing as a matter of course just dilutes it so people don't know when you're surprised/ angry/ irritated/ livid or any of those other words that describe when you're not completely rational. If swearing is normal, then what's the next step up, there isn't one.

Plus there's the polite company aspect. If you don't use certain words in front of your kids, then why use them as everyday words to strangers ?

PS There's been a few naughty words caught by the stump microphone in the cricket ... Seems to always happen when Sir Ian Botham is on commentary and he always comes out with a very apologetic "we're very sorry for what you might just have heard there". Good on him :-)

CAROLYN said...

I was raised in a time where adults never swore around the kids, nor was there any on TV. When I hear it coming from an older generation person now, it kind of shocks me.

Now science is saying there's a connection to altzhiemers and swearing, like if an elder was a very nice person and never swore, the disease somehow brings out an opposing personality in them where they demonstrate an ill-nature and swearing like a sailor!

I always wondered why the word "swear" is two-fold anyway. On one hand it's a blanket term for using foul language, on the other~ "Do you swear to tell the truth.. so help you god?"

Next time, cover Frasier's little ears. LOL!

Linda said...

How apropos! I was just talking about this recently to some friends. Having become a Christian, I stopped using foul language...and I would never use it in front of strangers. But our conversation centered on how some people must use this type of language with others because that is the only way others can understand (my husband is forever telling me how he has to talk in "s**t's and d**n's" with some officers because they won't listen otherwise...he calls them the "good ol' boys").

My friend put an interesting take on it...her husband works in construction, therefore he is constantly exposed to people who use foul language as commonplace. He would come home and proceed to use the same language with his wife and kids. She told him, "hon, you are much more intelligent than that...if you need to use words to express yourself, at least find creative and intelligent words to replace the ones you are using". She also told him that she felt it was arrogance that allowed him to use that in everyday language. Her kids saw this...and they have encouraged their kids to seek out "good" words (like assinine, lol) to use. Her husband started using different terms at work, and at first, the guys laughed at him, but he started challenging THEM to come up with new ways.

I think your tactful comment probably hit deeper than anyone saying "gee lady, you've got a potty mouth".

Beverly said...

I never cease to be horrified by women, in particular, who find it necessary to use that kind of language. It somehow sounds worse coming out of a woman's mouth.

There are some blogs, that while the posts are good, the language that is interjected is so raunchy, that I choose not to go there.

I taught first grade for a long time, and I was always amazed at what came out of the children's mouths, and then I realized that they were simply repeating what they had heard over and over at home from the adults and older siblings.

Heidi said...

In high school I got out of control using potty-mouth-words and my pop let me know how silly I sounded. While they did not mind that, if the situation really warranted a strong word, I talk this way, I really learned my lesson in using these ugly words.

I find it appalling how commonplace swearing/cussing is becoming. Just walking through the mall is a landmine with toddlers. (People just don't watch what they are saying around others... even children!) There are even stores with inappropriate sayings on T-shirts just out in the open.

I think it is all due to a decline of respect for one another... it is really just too bad.

Anna said...

I think there is an age where etiquette is no longer relevant. I just hate it when I hear that stuff though. Especially in movies when there is no value to it what so ever!

Holly Schwendiman said...

I hate potty mouths.


Chris said...

It's possible she's always been a foul-mouthed harridan, but in my eternal quest to find the best in people, I must say that it's also possible her language is the result of a stroke, or Alzheimers. She may not be aware of it, or able to control it.

Still, not someone you want to encounter on a regular basis.

Thumper said...

Old people get a pass from me; after hearing the way my mother speaks as she declines, I know that it happens. A dozen TIAs and a few strokes and a heart attack have done that to her. I know she doesn't intend to offend, but the filters are gone. This elderly woman you encountered my simply have lost her ability to filter.

Instead of focusing on the crudeness of it, I'd be more curious about the Why. Is she in the early stages of dementia? Other disease? Was she raised fairly rough-shod? Does she simply not hear herself speak?

Swearing doesn't bother me very much, unless it's done specifically for shock value. Old people who drop the f-bomb...for the same reasons I don't get as bent as I could when they hog the grocery store aisles with their sideways carts, I try to not pass judgment. Because truly, you never know what their story is, or why they do the things they do.

Heather said...

I'm in with Thumper on this one, you never know what the story is. She really could have some issues with her brain from illness, age or injury that is causing the language.
There's only a few words that bother me. More or less, it just bothers me when words meant to convey a strong feeling are overused and lose their value as a swear word to begin with.

smilnsigh said...

Perhaps she'd not be so lonely, if she was a wee bit more careful with the language. ,-)

Sarch said...

Gang I know I'm not necessarily running the same direction as the rest of the commentors on this (and for the record I am anti foul language), but I would have paid a pretty penny to see Carmi's facial expression when he realized that, "Yes this little old lady did INDEED just say that!"

Jennifer said...

That would have freaked me out! I'm not big on foul language at all...and it would have really shocked me to hear it from a little old lady! You handled it much more gracefully and tactfully than I would have been able to!!

Superchai said...

Ok I'll admit...I have a potty mouth. BUT I usually keep it under wraps if I don't really know you. Like I won't be swearing to or at my neighbors or people I hardly know. And I definitely keep it under wraps around children. But if you're a close friend of mine...or you're around me while I'm trying to tune my sitar. comes out. And like Sarch, I would've loved to see your expression.

creative-type dad said...

Wow, that's weird coming from an older person.

Maybe she's been watching some Quentin Tarantino marathon on IFC, or maybe her prescription is too high.

Awareness said...

That is a hilarious story! Don't you find it humourous when confronted with a situation like this when someone says or acts in a way that is completely opposite to what you expect?

Maybe she has Tourettes? haha!

Yeah, I've been know to let the expletives rip..... :) and sometimes for complete shock value.

YellowRose said...

Weird...kinda like having your grandmother drop the f-bomb! LOL I'd be taken by surprise that's for sure!! You handled it very well. I'd probably cross the street if I saw her coming again! ;)

kenju said...

That's unbelieveable that she would swear in front of a total stranger. A well-placed curse word for emphasis is okay now and then, but like that? I wonder why? Maybe it is a plea for attention, but of the worst kind, I think.

Pearl said...

I suppose it doesn't surprise me. There's people of every age demographic that swear like sailors.

Christine said...

LOL! I can just picture her, too. I really don't care for people who swear just to swear. I was raised not to talk like that. (I have to watch my "Oh Crap!"s around the kids, though.) Maybe she was trying to sound "young and hip"? LOL!

Kimberlee said...

"It sounds worse coming out of a woman's mouth?!!" Well cover your ears Ladies, because this woman drops a carefully placed F-bomb every now and then and it sounds exactly the same as when my fella does it. This was a funny ditty, one doesn't expect it from the elderly ... but time is moving on, and the elderly are less and less from the generation that frowned upon such. Baby boomers are inching up there and my bet is there's a whole lot of cursing just around the corner from the new older generation.