I was never asked about the mud still on my clothing and in my dripping wet hair, nor what in the world would prompt me to utter such blackguardly epithets. I later told one plainspoken girl what had happened and she, aghast, declared, "That (G.D.S.O.B)!" So much for her tender sensibilities. She spread the word and a few girls expressed their sympathy.
There I was -- what today would be called a loner because our phoneless farm isolated me from peers. A nerd because I was artistic, won all spelling bees and raised my hand in class. There was a shotgun and bolt-action rifle in our home, with which I had killed game and predators. I did indeed fantasize revenge against that teacher and my attacker, but never acted on it. Later her husband's sister married into my family and she would always greet me warmly at family events. I never told her how much I still despised her for that summary injustice.
Four years in high school, then at the army's finishing school for profane, vulgar, crude and grossly objectionable language (which they call "Basic Training"), my vocabulary to express even the most unthinkably obscene was vastly expanded. Pity I had not known those words in 1952. If G.D.S.O.B. was "never heard" by that prim teacher, surely she would not recognize filth on such a vastly advanced plane?
Sixty years later I live half-a-block from a middle school. Our home has an upper floor terrace that looks down on the street and sidewalk. Passing students seldom look up. I hear boys and girls alike bandy words and phrases that, if G.D.S.O.B. got me a face-slapping back then, these crudities would have invoked a death sentence. Teacher friends and family tell me that, as with polite language expansion, brand new vulgar words and phrases are constantly bouncing off school hallways. Indeed, I hear them in movies and on TV, as do our kids.
I have always wondered what makes one word acceptable and another not? Some words are vulgar in one context but not so in different usage or even as a double entendre. Are they taboo in schools? If certain words in one context or another are banned, then there should be a list of them and which usages are permitted. Otherwise, like all vague laws, administered according to individual enforcer subjectivity, they become "an ass."
Certainly, constant foul language everywhere has removed the shock value of even the most vile utterances. Nixon and every president since has been captured on tape using the worst of them all.
If we are to wash mouths out with soap, should we start with the kids -- or higher up?
Cook is an author, artist and inventor who lives in Hurricane.