Last week I crossed the invisible fence of foul language in front of my sister. She came over to check on me unexpectedly after work (because my mom asked her to after I sounded like death on a cracker over the telephone). “I HAVE EFFING PNEUMONIA!” Yes, I believe those were my exact words. None of the typical sugarcoating I put on for my family. Now the word, THAT word, wasn’t directed toward her. I was just plain frust-ur-rated as Caitlin would say.
The F word was never, EVER used in my house as a kid. I knew my mother was angry if she said “shoot.” On the rarest of rare occasions she would let a polite “dammit” slip. When I was 12 I thought the heavens would open and swallow up the eighth grade girl who said “crap” as we walked to the bus stop. I know. I was sheltered. And also I had no cable TV and only one Judy Blume book. So between myself and my best friend, who was a preacher’s kid, we were pretty well sequestered in good girls’ world.
I was raised in a little country Baptist church where the same sweet little old lady would press a clammy silver half dollar into my hand on Sunday mornings, although Mama went somewhat evangelical on me in junior high. One of her dearest friends invited us to her church where people were vocal in their worship and praise. So vocal that occasionally someone would actually start speaking in tongues. We quit going because frankly it freaked me out and I felt like a hypocrite not listening to the sermon or enjoying the music because someone was having convulsions in aisle three. I mean how can you truly worship God if all you can think is, “These people are NUTS. Wait, I’m in church. God knows I am thinking these people are NUTS. Wait, was that lightning? Wait, these people probably can HEAR MY EVIL THOUGHTS.” In high school I even attended youth fellowship on Sunday nights at the big United Methodist Church in town because I was seeking spiritual knowledge. Or it may have been because my best friend went to that church and I had a crush on a cute boy who went there, too.
Any way, stereotypical Southern ladies do not use the “F” word. They do not forget to say please and thank you. They do not drink beer from a can (but a bottle is okay, particularly if you have a cute monogrammed koozie.)
I have sugarcoated everything my whole life. “I’m just fine!” is my typical response. I need to realize it’s OK to not sugarcoat everything, especially to my family. I definitely got better about admitting things aren’t always sunshine, rainbows, and cute cuddly puppies after I had both my girls because everyone needs help with a newborn and I knew we would starve without a couple of good casseroles in the freezer.
As Scarlett O’Hara said, and I believe this is a direct quote, “As God is my witness I’ll never have pneumonia again!” She also said, “Mammy, bring me an ice cold Budweiser from the spring-fed creek, will ya sugah?” Actually, she’d probably take a swig of whiskey straight from Rhett’s bottle.