I looked around in awe. I was on the same stage Bob Dylan would be on in a couple of hours. A lighting technician yells at me, "Hey dumb (blank)! If you are going to stand there with your (blank) in your hand at least run that cord over to me!" I was proud to help this fine trademan. Then a stage hand tells me to get backstage before I get my blanking head cracked open. I was still smiling. As I walk I look down at the guitars against the wall and idn't notice the small middle aged woman coming toward me. Suddenly I bump into her and her face hits my chest. She glares at me with venomous eyes. It's the great singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell; she's opening for Dylan. "Hi, Ms. Mitchell" my voice sounds like Peter Brady on the Brady Bunch, cracking and whining, "Sorry, I, uh, am such a fan. Can't wait for your show." She takes a few notches off the glare and barks "Do you have a light?" I answer, "No, sorry, I don't smoke." She counters "well, you're just blanking worthless aren't you?" . She walks away. That was an amazing experience.
I don't curse. It's just not my thing. Yes, I attend church, read my Bible, and try to live virtuously but that's not even the reason. I was a straight lacer with the vocabulary before I went back to church 4 and a half years ago. I think is sound like a foolish little kid when I use words that my parents and preacher wouldn't be proud of. others I know, and I won't use names that sound like Lamy or Meth or Wobina, use some words that can be called colorful and they actually sound cool sometimes. Again, I just can't get away with any. I also implore my kids to be kind and pure with their talk. The little ones like to say freaking, butt, suck and a couple of other borderline bad words and I am often correcting. The teenager is really pushing boundaries sometimes and I pick my battles with her talk. My wife and I decided to rid our cable box of the movies channels and other uncensored programming just to set an example. We are far from perfect or restrictive.
Hard Knocks, a training camp special about one of my favorite teams, The New York Jets, premiered this week on HBO. I don't have that channel, because of some of the issues mentioned, so I kept up with the reviews of the show on twitter and youtube. The big "news" about the show wasn't the Darrelle Revis contract squabble, the acquisition of future Hall of Fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson or the buzz aroudn the team's Super Bowl projections, it was head coach Rex Ryan foul mouth. I didn't count them, nor did I hear them all, but apparently he used the F word around 70 or so times. He also used many other words. The day after the show, his mother scolded him, and Ryan apologized. To me, this is paying attention to the wrong thing. Ryan is a blowhard. He loves talking and hearing himself talk. he's also an outstanding football coach because he believes in himself, his players, and his system. As a former football player, I love that about the man in charge of leading my team. Do I wish Rex Ryan could be more professional with his vocabulary? Sure. I also know that football is testosterone fueled, emotion charged game and profession.
I work in a similar field; communication system construction. We don't run into each other with 4.4 speed but we do work in a male dominated vocation where manners, civility, and speech are often less than ideal. As a result of my demeanor, I am often apologized to when profanity is spewed about me. My response is always the same. "You don't bother me with your speech shortcoming and it's not me you have to apologize to." The people I work with have seen the Bible in my car. they know I have rescheduled work around church and family activities. While I neither preach nor engage them in civility discussions I also ask them to be respectful and professional as much as possible. Only twice in my career have I actually gotten onto anyone for their poor vocabulary or profane nature. Those were extreme situations quickly delt with.
I believe in people, individually. Being the father of three and husband of one, I find that generalizing anyone or having an across the board standard for anyone's behavior is foolish. Just because I don't curse doesn't mean I find that behavior indicative of some horrible character flaw that will find them sucked into a hole of fire for eternity. Is it sinful? Sure. So are a lot of things. I know people whose mouths are vile at times but their actions and heart are excellent. I excuse no one's behavior. Everyone eventually has to be judged. That judgement comes from someone much smarter, more qualified, and greater in wisdom that myself.
I hope my kids' know that speaking respectfully will gain them more attention than following the crowd and using lazy, profane language. I have had numerous discussions with friends and relatives about the music I listen too. Some of it is made by artists with little to moral compass that espouse political rhetoric that is unfortunate and language that is quite salty. As I tell them, I compartmentalize. Does the song have artistic value? Does the music move and entertain? is it made by someone other than the 10 bands I listed as terrible in an earlier blog? If the answer is yes to some or all of those questions, then I can live with the point of view and delivery. Music snobbery is an art form of it's own.
Some of my favorite comedians, actors, and rock stars have been known for their foul mouths. As I mentioned, I have people I love and trust that aren't always beautiful with the tongue. It's doesn't make them incapable of having great hearts. We should focus less on bad words and more on good actions or great performance.