I handed my mom a printed copy of my blog post Killing Time. “Here,” I say. “Read this.”
“What is it?”
“Something I wrote for my blog.”
“My blog. Remember? We agreed I’d print the parts you’re allowed to read so you wouldn’t have to see the stuff you don’t like?”
“Oh! That thing where they gave you the writer of the week award?” she says, referring to the time I was Freshly Pressed. “You’re still doing that?”
“Yup, still doing it,” I tell her.
She takes the pages from me. “I don’t understand why you have to write such scum.”
SSSSSLAP! * sting * Ow!
I’ve discussed in previous posts my mother’s discomfort with some of what I write on my blog. Or, more accurately, with the idea of it because she hasn’t ever actually seen my blog. Any of the posts she’s read have been ones that I’ve edited in consideration of her delicate sensibilities, and emailed or printed for her. She’s from a different generation when some of the language I use wasn’t slung around as casually as it is today. Also, I’ll always be her little girl, so while she’s accepting and wonderful about me being a lesbian, there are certain details of my private life she’d rather not know. I wouldn’t want to read anything she wrote exploring the details of her sexual escapades either, because ewwww! So I’ve tried to be understanding and accept that when it comes to my blog, she’s too focused on the details to appreciate the big picture.
What I’ve tried to explain to her, and what she cannot seem to grasp, is that while there may be a generational differences in opinions about acceptable language, I choose words because they make sense, or have the effect I want, in the context of what I’m saying.
For example, a friend and I were leaving a concert once and wanted to get to a certain restaurant for a bite to eat before it closed. Since neither of us was wearing a watch, I asked a fellow concert-goer if he knew what time it was. He replied that it was “ten-fucking-thirty.” I remember that night because it was the first time I saw The Go Gos, and we saw Bette Midler in the audience, and we had better seats than her and she waved to us when we yelled “We love you Bette!” But I also remember that random fucking. Ten-fucking-thirty. Fucking is meant to convey something – anger, frustration, disappointment. But this fucking was empty, hollow; it was a pointless fucking.
Now, let’s say that you’re out enjoying a night with friends. The conversation is flowing, you’ve had a couple of drinks and you glance at your watch – it’s 10:00pm. There’s a lot of laughter, maybe some dancing, you have a few more drinks and a couple of hours pass … or so you think! You look at your watch. It’s three-fucking-thirty! This fucking conveys shock and surprise. It is not a random, pointless fucking; it’s a deliberate and meaningful fucking. Which is interesting, because most fuckings associated with drinking and 3:30am are, in fact, random and pointless.
I don’t want this to be an open invitation to bash on my mom. She’s got something of a reputation for saying one thing when she means another, and I’ve been entertaining my Facebook friends for years by posting snippets of our conversations.
My Mom: I’m not homophobic. I’m not afraid to go outside, sometime my arthritis just gets so bad …
Me: Agoraphobic Ma. You’re not agoraphobic.
My Mom: Oh. Well what did I say?
Me: * face palm *
My Mom: Did you see the two Asian women win that jackpot last night?
Me: Two Asian women … you’re gonna have to be more specific.
My Mom: They were wearing skinny jeans.
Me: Well that narrows it down …
My Mom: I don’t think they were Korean or Japanese. They may have been Brazilian.
I know that mixing up your phobias or forgetting that Brazil is not an island in the Pacific isn’t the same as asking why I write scum. But if I’m going to tell you something she said that hurt my feelings, I also need to let you know she’s funny and endearing and that we spend a lot of time making each other laugh. I could stretch this post out to a couple of thousand words detailing all the ways she’s been there for me and supported me and loved me, even when I wasn’t very lovable. And she was always my greatest champion when it came to my writing; which, I know, is why this hit me so hard.
As a lover of all things ironic, I can’t help but appreciate the fact that she’s put off by the words I carefully choose for effect; yet she didn’t consider how the words she used so carelessly might affect me. She did follow it up by saying, “You’re such a good writer, why do you have to use those words?” And I guess I could ask her the same thing – you’re such a good mom, why did you have to use those words?