Profanity has always been very close to me. If I wasn't saying it, I was hearing it. I tried for years to clean my mouth up. I actually went for a few years without uttering a profanity, but sometimes a well-placed fricative just feels better.
I have bifurcated my tongue. This is a trick I learned as a kid. On the schoolyard, I would let it flow like oatmeal-coaxed feces out of my mouth. But at home, around my mother and father, it was all about "oh darn it."
I've had my seasons of profanity, but I also have kids, and I have tried to raise them without their hearing too much of that trash. In this process, I have searched for substitutes for the words that really cut to the chase. I have searched for and adopted an arsenal of knock-off profanities. That is what they feel like when I say them too. It feels like I am speaking from a 3rd generation tape recording where I should be using the crisp CD sound with no crackle or pop.
I can't really explain how I got to this point of two different tongues, but there it is. At work, I keep it relatively clean, but if I feel you are in my inner circle, you might get more vulgarities than you expected. Overall, I have a foul mouth and I am very conscious of it.
Enter ten years ago, I started to say "waterdrinker" as a kid-friendly way of getting around the popular four-syllable profanity that sounds sort of like "mothersucker." It was a good substitute around the kids when I would repeat whatever raps I had been listening to.
"The waterdrinkin' saga continues."
"1-8-7 on a waterdrinkin' cop."
"What's up now waterdrinker?"
"What's up now waterdrinker?"
I have this thing about whatever music I am listening to: I blab it constantly. Lately it has been stuff from the new PRONG album which isn't really that questionable...but I digress.
Recently, I have been going through my mental four-syllable bank for a newer replacement to my classic "waterdrinker." Furthermore, some of the social emails at work have been concerned with the syndicated television language edits that cover our favorite profane quotes in movies. It seems like this is the time to bring the waterdrinker to the next level.
Last week, I started with "helicopter" as the four-syllable replacement for "waterdrinker". It is a complex attempt at a utility modifier that has been slightly modified. However, statements like, "Pass the helicoptin' potatoes," are going to be a hard sell. Helicopter is still in its beta stage, but well on its way.
Last night, Yzzy showed me her movie du jour called THE FREEDOM WRITERS. I need to also clarify that I have been coming off of a throat-splitting, scrambled-eggs-and-carpet-in-the-back-of-the-throat-flu bender, where I have been in and out of consciousness while sprawled on the couch watching WALL STREET, TRAINING DAY and the third and fourth seasons of RESCUE ME.
WALL STREET is amusing and the two seasons of RESCUE ME made me realize that Tommy Gavin's life makes mine look like an all-day pass with no lines at Disneyland. The one that I need to fine tune for you is TRAINING DAY. I watched TRAINING DAY with a bunch of my juniors and seniors back when I was a high school English teacher. The movie was supposed to come out the week of 9/11, but then some yahoos flew their planes into some buildings and the movie got delayed. When it did come out, I took a day off from work and picked up a bunch of guys who were willing to take a cut on their attendance records and we went to go see the film. It was devastating and mesmerizing at the same time. I have seen it at least 10 times since then.
This time through it, I stayed focused on Scott Glenn. Scott gets the short end of the stick in TRAINING DAY, but he still holds it down. I would argue that he upstages Denzel Washington at a few points. I realized that I dig the Glenn more and more every time I watch that film. Furthermore, every time that craggy faced waterdrinker is in a film, you have at least something interesting to look at, whether he has phoned in the part or is actually acting. I believe Glenn is guilty of phoning in his BOURNE IDENTITY part 3 role. But what I can remember of the man are all heavy hitting parts. SILVERADO, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and some mountain, ice-climbing movie that was really lame, but Scott was there.
So, last night I am watching THE FREEDOM WRITERS with Yzzy and I am getting queasy. The movie is about a teacher who sacrifices everything for a class of delinquents and in the end gets props for it. We have all seen it before in the forms of THE CONCRETE JUNGLE, DANGEROUS MINDS and WELCOME BACK WATERDRINKING KOTTER. I am still angry with Hillary Swank for her rape epic BOYS DON'T CRY. I can't get behind her career. Yes, yes, someone had to do the job, and that someone would have to bear the brunt of my hatred, so Hillary, it was predestined on some level...get over it.
THE FREEDOM WRITERS is one of those darts crafted in one of the coldest rings of hell to make you want to cry. It is a corny voyage into the hearts and hyperbolized lives of people you normally wouldn't give a rip about. I remained steadfast. It didn't crack my armor. I was a teacher, I know what it is like to love your students. I also know that if your students write journal entries about carrying guns, being abused by your parents or being put up for prostitution, you are supposed to call social services. You aren't supposed to publish the stories, make a quick buck and get associated with rape advocates like Hillary Swank.
There is nothing that could have saved this film from its saccharine pillow sprinkled with NutraSweet crystals. This movie was American cheese, individually wrapped, that looks like burnt plastic when put under the broiler. As I worked the bile back in my cough-torn throat, I saw the saving grace: Scott Glenn. Scott didn't phone this role in. Scott is in the trenches, out-acting everyone in his path and putting a serious upstage to whatever Hillary "I-like-acting-like-a-boy-who-is-a-girl- not-a-boy-but-eventually-gets-raped" Swank was doing.
Then the revelation hit me. Helicopter needs to be just that: helicopter. To say "helicopterin'" begs it too much. I said it inside my head a few times and it stuck. Then I began to shop it.
SCOTT HELICOPTER GLENN.
It has a ring to it. A ridiculous ring. Not as ridiculous as "Scott Waterdrinkin' Glenn" sounds, and not as ridiculous as Scott Motherf*cking Glenn sounds. I think Scott Helicopter Glenn hits the mark. Furthermore, Scott was the helicopter MAN in THE FREEDOM WRITERS. If Scott hadn't been there to save that helicopter, I would have clawed my helicopter eyes out by now. I sure in the chopper (oooh, you see that?) wouldn't have anything to helicopter blog about. Scott Helicopter Glenn is where I am at on this rainy helicopter Saturday afternoon in the helicopter Santa Cruz Mountains.
And as I finish this post, I am realizing that my entire substitute profanity catalog needs a serious overhaul. I said "summon a witch" the other day and the look I got was the look that says, "Why didn't you just say son of a bitch?"
The word "stink" has been played out, and so is "frick". I still say "damage" instead of dammit, and there seems to be no end to the use of "fuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" in all of its unfinished glory. Doggonnit is still a usable substitute for when I don't quite want to ask God to blot something out, and the ever present "shoot" will stay in place of the shorter version with a different vowel.
I suppose that I will still live my double life in and out of profanity until my kids all hit 18. And then, it's gonna break helicopter loose.