To look at me you probably wouldn’t guess that most days I’ve emptied out my considerable arsenal of profane words before spooning sugar into my second cup of coffee.
It’s an unfortunate character flaw. One that doesn’t exactly gel with my carefully cultivated Playgroup Mom persona, but lurks just beneath the surface, waiting for an excuse to erupt like a hot, dumpster fire.
I can only assume it’s something I inherited from my parents along with clacking ankle bones and the ability to appear as though I’m actually listening when other people talk.
Growing up, my dad, in particular, had a colorful vocabulary, one that he used in just about every possible scenario.
In fact, he invoked both God and Jesus so much during my childhood, that when it comes time to meet them, I’m pretty sure they’ll be waiting for him at the entrance with a clipboard and transfer orders.
While there was always a valid reason for him to break out his impressive collection of NC-17 phrases, like not being able to find a spoon in the dishwasher or discovering that I’d eaten the last of his Jell-O Pops, it was in the car where he did his best work.
Pensive, with a rigid grip on the steering wheel, anything could set him off. A tailgater, someone not paying attention, a car pulling out randomly — all were incentives for an angry, spit-laced tirade.
Mostly, however, it was anyone going too slow in front of him that provoked the most acute episodes of binge swearing.
With my brother and me sitting in the back seat, he’d sometimes try and keep it family-friendly by uttering a simple “C’mon, you turkey.”
But that was rare.
Typically, he used longer, more offensive phrases which increased exponentially depending on how long we were stuck behind the driver, and just how slowly they were traveling.
It was like attending an educational seminar on road rage with live demonstrations.
Occasionally, he’d get creative and make up entirely new swear words. To this day my personal favorite remains, “Paper Ass,” said with each syllable drawn out for effect.
I seriously have no idea what it means.
I can only assume it implies that the motorist in question is somehow equipped with a butt so wispy and easily crumpled up, that it’s physically impossible for them to drive anywhere close to the speed limit.
I should also point out that my dad wasn’t the only offender in the household. Though far less frequent, my mom had her moments as well.
Once, while standing directly in front of an open window, she lost her mind trying to attach a vacuum hose to the canister, and yelled out a string of profanities explicit enough to make George Carlin blush, only to look up and discover the UPS guy standing frozen outside.
Without another word she signed for her package, then closed the window.
And, as previously noted, there’s me.
A considerable amount of restraint has been necessary over the past 20 years while my kids have been growing up. It’s important to me that they not think their mom is some kind of trash-talking, boozy sailor, even though most nights by around 6:30 p.m. that’s pretty much what they’ve got anyway.
Now that they’re older, my resolve has loosened. Most everything I say includes at least a couple curses and usually it’s because the spoon I’m looking for is missing from the dishwasher or someone has eaten the last of my Edy’s Slow-Churned ice cream.
It’s gotten so bad that I find it necessary to replay conversations in my head, doublechecking that I haven’t accidentally dropped some big-ticket profanity while discussing the latest Mary Higgins Clark novel with my mother-in-law.
But it’s behind the wheel of a car where I do my best work.
The good news is that, thanks to my husband, I don’t have to worry about making up my own swear words.
For my birthday he gave me “Creative Cursing: A Mix and Match Profanity Generator.”
It’s a flip book that allows you to combine any number of curses into new variations in order to avoid redundancy, and it really comes in handy when I’ve used up all of mine.
Not surprisingly, however, “paper ass” is nowhere to be found.