My daughter was in the parking lot of a local hardware store recently and was blessed by one of those small, ironic life lessons that come along once in a blue moon.
While waiting to back out of a parking space, she noticed a vehicle blocking her exit. She waited patiently for the woman to get her rear in gear and pull out of the way. My daughter, ever the pragmatist, passed the time by checking her texts.
When she heard the ever-so-faint beep-beep of a horn, she glanced behind and saw another car waiting to enter the lot. Behind the wheel was a somewhat impatient-looking woman.
You might agree that the logical thing for Ms. Block-the-Lot to do would have been to move forward just a tad, allow Ms. Honk to drive in and let my daughter get to work on time.
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But no! Ms. Block-the-Lot proceeded to get out of her car and confront Ms. Honk through the latter’s open window.
This is a reasonable facsimile of the exchange:
Ms. Block: “What in the hell do you think you’re doing? This isn’t ----ing New York City. We don’t honk our GD horns here. This is a small, ----ing town, and things are different.”
Ms. Honk: “Well, I didn’t mean to honk very loud ...”
Ms. Block: “(Expletive)! You can’t wait for two ----ing minutes while I finish ----ing talking to my son?”
Ms. Honk: “But you were blocking the ...”
Ms. Block: “This is Arroyo Grande, you ----ing psycho!!!”
Ms. Honk: (Cringe and slow roll-up of the window.)
Ah, the Central Coast, land of the genteel, possessive of grace and old-fashioned, small-town decorum. We don’t honk, but we swear like crazy people!
I’m happy to report that no one came to blows and Ms. Block eventually moved her car.
Thankfully, I just turned 65, so I’ve reached an age at which I can imperiously use the phrase, “Well, in my day ...”
I’m entitled to pontificate freely and speak with an omniscient, geezer wisdom that the young are so eager to hear. In my view, maybe it’s time that we all re-evaluate.
As someone who has been known to drop an occasional F-bomb (I do play golf after all), I’m concerned about future generations. After all, if women in parking lots, and even grandmotherly types like me, are using certain words, how much impact could they still have for the average 15-year-old?
It appears as though our current crop of, well, words that shall not be said on TV, have run their course. When you think about it, every bodily function and all the interesting parts of human anatomy have been appropriated into some kind of exclamatory phrase.
Let me be the first to predict: We have a looming expletive crisis! We have national reserves, I’m told, but once those are tapped out, what words will our great-grandchildren be able to employ to shock the socks off their elders and reduce their parents to exploding bundles of rage?
A toss of the hair and a door slam have worked their magic for years, but the accompanying turn-of-phrase, “F off,” is now so old-school, so 20th century!
Might it be that, like economic policy and education theory, swearing is merely a circular pattern destined to follow the same path eon after eon? What’s old is new again?
If so, retro 1930 expletives are on the horizon, and we’re in for some humdingers. Imagine, if you will, the parking lot exchange of the future:
Ms. Block: “Heavens to Betsy! What do you think you’re doing? Holy Toledo, this isn’t gosh darn New York City! For crying out loud, this is a small town. Judas priest!”
Ms. Horn: “Fudgescicles, I didn’t honk very loud, for heaven’s sake ...”
Ms. Block: “Santa Monica! You can’t wait two gag-a-maggot minutes while I finish talking to my dang son? For pity sakes!”
Ms. Horn: “Good nightshirt! You were blocking the ...”
Ms. Block: “Fiddlesticks! This is Arroyo Grande, where everything is hunky dory, you dang psycho! Just hold your horses, dag nabit! Criminy!”
Ms. Horn: “Oh, for Pete’s sake!”
In memory of our dear grandparents, perhaps people in parking lots ought to put a sock in it and lay off the horns. Perhaps even my golf buddies and I should be less profane on the links. It might take some practice, but I think we can pull it off: “Oh applesauce! Land sakes, I missed that putt again!”
Well ... maybe. I guess there are worse things than swearing at golf balls.
Suzanne Davis is happily retired and living in the South County with her husband and their three dogs.