This is what houndstooth looks like:
What's that you say? You like that? You think it's pretty?
Well, how about THIS????:
Yeah. I didn't think so.
The planets must have all been in alignment that year, because not only did I have the most vicious teacher at Neil A. Armstrong-Oakview Grade School, third grade was also when I decided to get my swear on. Now, you have to remember, I didn't have the best reputation with the teachers at my school, as I was just recovering from my social faux pas in the second grade. Remember? The one where I was all like, "Hey everybody! Randy Serg went retarded! I heard it over the loudspeaker! We have to help him!" Oh. You don't know about that? Then before you read any further, please refer to this entry. It's ok, we'll wait for you.
All caught up? Good. Anyway, I had a veritable treasure trove of swear words available to me everyday, via my parents. Now, before you get all up in your ivory tower about my parents, just remember, this was the 1970's. Parents didn't "monitor" their language for fear that their children would start swearing. They swore up one side and down the other, and if we were stupid enough to follow suit, we were beaten. Once was usually all it took. We then learned to: A.) stop swearing or B.) swear only around our friends. Unfortunately, fate cruelly offered me a third alternative.
So, about the swears. I listened carefully and practiced swearing at my Barbie dolls and stuffed animals until I thought I'd gotten them all memorized correctly. Then, on a cold day in January, I found an opportunity to showcase my new vocabulary. There was this really stupid kid in my class, I think his name was Van. Or maybe it was Linus. I forget. Seriously, he would do that thing where you make circles with your thumbs and index fingers, splay your other 3 fingers out, and turn the circles upside down over your eyes. Then he would say "Whoo-whoo! I'm an owl!"
You're doing it right now, aren't you?
*Sigh*. No, that's ok. We'll wait.
Anyway, he was running around the playground with his coat tied around his throat like a cape, doing that thing with his fingers and his eyes. That's basically all he ever did during recess, because nobody would play with him. Not even Artie-Fartie. Well, Van/Linus' antics completely annoyed me on that day, probably because it was so cold, and it was obvious to me that he was choosing negative attention over warmth, which was stupid. Warmth trumps EVERYTHING. So as we were coming in from recess, I decided it was time to use some new words to express my disdain for Linus/Van. My little hamster brain raced with excitement, which word to use??? A**hole? Sh*thead? Dumb*ss? I felt like a starving child at an all-you-can-eat candy store. So many options!
My best friend Christy was hanging up her coat next to mine. But wait! She was already heading back to her desk! I was running out of time, I had to hurry!!!! So I quickly said the first thing that came to me, "Van is such a sh*tass!"
Was that even a word? Here, let me Google it. Yes, it appears that sh*tass is indeed a word. I suspect I may have had something to do with that. Because in 1975, sh*tass wasn't a word I'd ever heard anybody say. And I grew up in a freakin' trailer court, so I would know.
No matter, it had had the desired effect. Christy's eyes grew huge with, with...wonder? Shock? Amazement? No, none of those adjectives clearly defined the look in Christy's eyes as she stared at me. I mean, as she stared behind me....wait! I knew that look! FEAR! Pure, unadulterated, gut-wrenching, pee-your-pants-and-not-even-realize-it fear.
That's right. Mrs. Murphy was standing directly behind me. I thought Christy was going to throw up, but no, instead she went into survival mode. She gave a little scream, ran to her desk, put her head down and buried her face in her arms. It was the closest she could get to pretending she didn't exist.
I honestly couldn't blame her.
As my classmates watched in horror, Mrs. Murphy grabbed me by the arm and dragged me out into the hallway, probably so she wouldn't get my blood on her classroom floor.
Mrs. Murphy: "WHAT DID YOU SAY???"
Was this a trick? Was she trying to get me to say it again, so she could justifiably kill me for swearing at her? Or was it possible, just possible, that she hadn't heard clearly and was simply asking me for clarification?
I chose to go with option two, it seemed the safest route.
Me: "Um...I said Van had gas."
It was an unwise choice.
Mrs. Murphy: "THAT IS A LIE! NOW, WHAT DID YOU SAY???"
Now I was confused. I mean, she'd obviously heard me, and was blatantly displeased with my choice of words, so why was she was asking me to say it again? Was she giving me permission to say a swear??? Were we to have an "understanding"? Maybe sh*tass was her favorite swear, and I'd somehow touched a chord deep inside her? Only one way to find out.
Me: "Um. I called Van a sh*tass."
Mrs. Murphy: "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST SAID THAT! DO YOU HAVE NO SHAME???"
Ok, now I was just getting pissed. She'd just tricked me into swearing in front of an adult. See what I mean about sadistic?
I decided the best thing would be to say nothing. Ha! Let's see what she did with that!
Mrs. Murphy: "ARE YOU REFUSING TO SPEAK TO ME??"
Mrs. Murphy: "DID YOU KNOW IT'S AGAINST THE LAW FOR A CHILD TO SWEAR?? YOU COULD GO TO JAIL!! WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT WORD??"
For realsies??? Now I was scared. I didn't want to go to jail! I'd just gotten a magic 8 ball and a bunch of Bobbsey Twin books for Christmas and I was pretty sure I wouldn't be allowed to take them with me. So I did what any person living under a totalitarian regime would do. I threw my parents under the bus.
Me: "Um, at home."
Now this wasn't quite true. I had heard the words used separately by both of my parents, but I couldn't exactly tell Mrs. Murphy, "Well, my mom says sh*t a lot, and my dad says his boss is a real *sshole, but sh*tass? I'm pretty sure I just made that word up."
So I went with the condensed version.
Mrs. Murphy: "Oh really? Well! I won't call your parents this time, but I AM going to the principal's office right now, so I can have this entered into your permanent file!"
Wait. I had a permanent file??? Just how permanent, you ask?
Mrs. Murphy: "...AND I DOUBT VERY MUCH IF YOU'LL EVER GET INTO A GOOD COLLEGE BECAUSE OF THIS! GOOD SCHOOLS DON'T TAKE GIRLS WHO SWEAR!!!"
She seriously said that. Seriously. And I believed her. Seriously. Because I may have had a potty mouth, but I was extremely gullible. Extremely. (Remember Randy Serg?).
And down the hall she marched, leaving me to wonder how I was going to break the bad news to my parents. I could picture it all so vividly. I visualized my parents and I in the year 1985, discussing college applications. Of course, we would probably have robot parts by then, like the Six Million Dollar Man. I just knew my dad would beat my ass with his bionic arm. But ha ha! I would have bionic legs like Lindsay Wagner in The Bionic Woman, and I would escape.
Bionic: bi·on·ic (bī-ŏn'ĭk)
adj. Having extraordinary strength, powers, or capabilities; superhuman.
But they would still be pissed. Bionically pissed.