Monday, July 26, 2010

The Lady

I was raised by The Lady. I mean my mom, of course. She was such a lady in fact that common every day words like butt, snot and tissue were considered bad words. At least, I think tissue was considered a bad word, perhaps because it could be confused with bathroom tissue. And for The Lady what happened in the bathroom stayed in the bathroom and was NEVER to be discussed. But at any rate a tissue was for us "a naughty nose wiper".

Calling it such (I have no clue why the more specific Kleenex was forbidden) was okay for running around the house, and, "oh my gosh I had a big sneeze, Mama!" moments, but in school using such terms to ask for a tissue could compromise your whole standing as a normal human being. Unfortunately, we did call it that in public...and my sister Annie did at least once when she was a teenager. She walked to the front of her class in junior high school and very politely asked, "Can I have a naughty nose wiper, please?" To describe the amount and length of the laughter that ensued would be to cause her undue pain, but from that time forward tissue was, for her, no longer a forbidden word.

Three of the four of us kids took speech therapy in school. I think it is simply because my mom taught us euphemisms for everything, so no one could understand what the heck we were talking about. They finally figured out we were bright children who knew what we were trying to say, if in a somewhat unusual way, and they shooed us out with a shake of their heads.

And now for the "f" word. No, not that one!! That one does not exist for my mom-it unexists, kind of like the undead. No, I'm talking about the term almost everyone I know uses for passing gas and which, no gentle reader, I cannot even write in good conscience. This word gives me particular trouble now that I am myself a mother; my daughter already says it and says it with gusto. Every time it falls from her mouth, my ears burn, and I wring my hands and plead with her, "Now, sweetheart, it's a toot, remember? What would Grandmama say?"

What would she say indeed? It's so hard to be a lady. I am myself already teaching my kids euphemisms for things, and mine don't quite roll off the tongue the way "naught nose wiper" did. We say nooger instead of booger (sorry, Mom!). We say snoot instead of snot. And carp instead of....well, you know. Okay, so they're not all that clever, but I have no pangs of guilt when I say them. Now, if could just get my daughter to stop calling her bottom her "butt", I'd do my mama proud.


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