I don’t normally think of myself as a hopeless prude. But is it just me or have the once generally accepted rules of decorum gone completely swirling unceremoniously down the toilet?
Used to be you could take your significant other out for a nice dinner or to a movie without being inundated with the “f-word” from the next table or from someone behind you in the popcorn lineup.
I just can’t seem to get used to it.
You see a couple of nice, well-dressed, fresh-faced teenaged females sitting with their boyfriends at Starbucks, and you can’t help overhearing their conversation on account of they are talking so loud:
First Girl: “So what did you think of that movie?”
Second Girl: “Yeah, I loved it — it was, like, sweet!”
First Guy: “You’re f-ing kidding, right? That movie was f-ing lame!”
Second Guy: “Yeah, dude, it f-ing sucked!”
Back in my day, before the invention of backwards ball caps and $6 coffees, this was so not the way to impress a girl. I just shake my head in a holier-than-thou fashion, silently lamenting the pathetic lack of class displayed by these potty-mouthed males in the presence of classy young females.
First Girl: “Yeah, well that’s because you two are f-ing stupid!”
Wow. As they say — I’d better get used to it.
Because somewhere along the downhill slide down the slippery slope of declining good manners in the past few years this major paradigm shift in the use of certain ‘idiomatic expressions’ has become commonplace. F-bombs are everywhere — attacking all of us like killer bees.
So what does that tell us? It either tells us that we’re all going to hell in a hand basket — excuse the language — or it tells us that I am an over-reacting nerd.
Hey, I’m no enemy of free speech, freedom of expression or freedom to be an idiot, but I’m a big fan of freedom from a vocabulary consisting of approximately 12 words total, seven of which are the swearing kind.
In truth, I’m actually getting used to this New Age to the point where I can actually appreciate a well-placed F-bomb or two by, say, a standup comedian. But the trouble is, too many people place nothing but F-words before and after each and every two or three regular words.
And it’s not just comedians and TV shows and it’s not just F-bombs. All kinds of linguistic gutterage is leaking off movie and TV screens and sliding off the pages of books and magazines into the mouths of the uncouth and the couth alike. The very fabric of a sane world seems to be crumbling all around us, if in fact fabric can crumble.
My point is, if there actually is one, is that sometimes it’s not just about changing lexicons, or the transformation of linguistics or culture, it’s about being selfish.
You can be as gross and disgusting as you like, but do me a favour, and be gross and disgusting on your own time, in the privacy of your own cave.
I mean, what’s wrong with taking the high road once in a while and dredging up some couth in a public setting, and conversing like normal people?
But I guess potty mouth is the new normal. And the next generation is probably going to be worse.
As that paragon of etiquette Fred Astaire once said: “The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.”
Maybe that’s why I’m a little old fashioned about all this. Because when I was a kid, I said a swear — I believe it was the one starting with D and ending in AMN, and my mom washed my mouth out with soap.
This is the honest truth — she made me stand over the sink and stuck a bar of Lifebuoy Soap in my mouth.
I’ve never forgotten the trauma; I came out of there a changed boy.
Because that stuff tastes F-ing terrible.
Harley Hay is a local filmmaker and freelance writer.