The Yin & Yang of Millie & Sven
Profanity shot out of my mouth for the first time at the age of eleven. It came to me as I learned to sew. You see, the damn thread got all tangled up in that fucking bobbin thing and then I had to pull the whole son of a bitch outta there, tear it apart and rip out the stupid zipper. It was a Sunday afternoon. I had unfinished, well, not even started homework and Walt Disney and Ed Sullivan were lurking. Time was ticking and I didn’t have ticking time to waste. And that is precisely when the word darn just didn’t cut it. I looked around nervously. But I was the only soul in the basement so I got away with, SWEARING. After that moment I don’t believe I ever used the word darn again, unless, of course, in the accompaniment of an adult or if I was trying to be funny in front of my friends saying things like, “Well, wouldn’t you know it, that golly, gosh, darn dog, peed on my leg.” As I progressed into my teens, the use of profanity grew with great strides and the F-bomb came in real handy. I loved to tell stories and when I started to throw in, fucking, to describe how I really felt about something, there was just no turning back. In my defense, I use profanity as a necessary adjective, not the way kids use it today like it’s supposed to be tossed into every sentence without any relevance. Then I one day I woke up and I was an adult. And then I became a mother. I figured I wouldn’t swear in front of my kids, but that turned out not to be true. My own offspring set out a swear jar in the living room. It used to cost me a nickel every time I opened my mouth. One morning in the wee hours, we were heading to the babysitter. We’d stopped at the gas station for treats. We got back in the car and I stuck the Styrofoam cup of coffee between my legs. The dip going from the parking lot to the road caused the cup of Joe to jostle and apparently the lid hadn’t been secured tightly, which meant that hot lava poured between my legs and straight into my hoo-ha, scalding everything in its path. I quickly pulled over to the side of the road to save my vagina from melting like candle wax into the front seat. That is when every naughty word, I’d picked up throughout my entire life shot out of my mouth like the gun had just gone off for a fifty yard dash. After the tears were wiped from my eyes, the awkward silence in the back seat was broken by my youngest. “That’ll be forty-five cents, Mom.” He always was good at math. So that night I divvied up the cash, gave it to the kids and threw away the jar. But luckily Sven is the opposite. He is perfect. He never swears. He hits his forehead with the palm of his hand when he is upset about cutting a board too short for the third time. We are like yin and yang. I am bad, he is good. I swear, he does not. It works out well because there isn’t enough room in the house for more than one potty mouth. But this winter Sven went to work for a big construction company for six weeks. Instead of Sven being the contractor, his company was contracted. He was happy about it. They had guaranteed inside winter work. And in case you haven’t been reading the newspapers, watching T.V. or seen the internet, because you are dead, you might not know that it has been fucking, FREEZING here in the Midwest. (See? Good use of an adjective.) It was cute. Sven was carefully packing sandwiches into his ancient lunch box, like he used to. He left the house every morning well before the crack of dawn. I could wipe off the counter, look at the cleared table and walk out the door knowing that he wasn’t going to be traipsing in and out all day long, dropping off more and more shit everywhere, changing clothes, tossing paper work on the floor because the table was already covered and be pacing around doing figure eights with salty boots and melting snow. I beat him home every night too. The house was immaculate and serene, except for a barking dog. (See: Sven & Millie’s School of Dog Whispering) But then a peculiar thing began to happen. Sven started turning into a cussing fool, I guess from hanging out at the job. I felt like I was living on the set of the Sopranos. He was throwing the f-bomb into every sentence and then he even started to end them all with God damn it. It sounded like this around our place. “And then the fucking inspector was talking into her fucking recorder about every fucking nail hole where the fucking putty wasn’t perfectly, fucking smooth. God damn it.” “Millie, should I make some fucking fish tonight? God damn it.” “What the fuck, Hunter. Stop the fucking barking. God damn it.” “Are you ready for fucking bed? I’m tired. God damn it.” I know! I couldn’t believe it either. I didn’t care how cute he looked in that hard hat or how clean the house was. I couldn’t take it. It was like my swearing was being canceled out by his swearing. It was no fun for me to say anything bad anymore. I started talking like Mother Theresa, just trying to equalize the situation. He was using up all the allotted amount of profanity per the household and more. Not to mention, I missed the sweet old head banging man I’d married. Thank God that job has ended. It took a couple weeks for the new lingo to wear off, but my 'Sveet Sven' is back, I am swearing once again and I haven't seen the kitchen table since.