language, lessons learned, silliness

Repost: Is this inappropriate?

Here’s a post I wrote in November 2018. It’s mostly “as/is”.

Negative comments are interesting.  A lot of times, they inspire me in ways you wouldn’t expect.  I have kind of a strange mind sometimes.  It goes off into tangents, some of which turn out to be totally goofy.  Yesterday, Bill and I were directed into goofy territory when I looked up the meaning of the expression “bite me”.   A couple of days ago, I wrote a post entitled “Hate my blog?  Bite me.”  My inspiration for that post came, in part, from some drama that has erupted on my blog recently.  It’s not just “Wondering Why’s” negative comment about how I’m so bitter and post so much “inappropriate” stuff.  It’s also because of other people who feel the need to try to “police” what I write in my blog.

“The Overeducated Housewife” is my first and probably most read blog simply due to the fact that it’s eight years old (ETA: in 2021, it’s 11 years old).  But around these parts, it’s my travel blog that gets more notice (no longer true).  Because of the community I live in and the fact that military folks can be excruciatingly uptight about some things, I try to keep the travel blog somewhat clean.  Every now and then, a little profanity slips in, and I make no secret about how much Bill and I enjoy booze tourism.  We aren’t necessarily a “wholesome” couple.  But I do try to keep the personal drama to a minimum on that blog.  It’s somewhat PG by my standards.

This blog, by contrast, gets a lot of weird shit posted on it.  Some of it is very personal, profane, and “inappropriate”.  Some of it’s kind of silly and funny.  I use a lot more swear words on this blog.  It’s “rated R”.

Then I have the music blog, which I update maybe once or twice a month.  I would probably delete it altogether, but for some reason, people are obsessed with my post about Richard Carpenter’s daughter, Mindi.  To date, my post about Mindi Carpenter has garnered well over 100,000 hits.  It’s my most popular post of all time.  I really don’t know why, but as long as it gets hits, I figure I might as well get some ad revenue. (still thinking of deleting it because I never update it much anymore, but I want to get paid, first)…

Anyway… back to the subject at hand.  I was writing about tangents, and it’s time I came back from the latest one.  A couple of days ago, I wrote my post about people who hate blogs and bloggers.  I used the expression, “Bite me.”  I used that expression because it’s a somewhat sanitized version of saying “fuck off”.  In truth, I am much more likely to say “fuck off” than “bite me”.  In fact, I can’t think of any time recently that I invited someone to “bite me”.  It’s just not a phrase I use very often.  “Fuck off”, on the other hand, is a favorite expression of mine.  It’s very ladylike, you see. 

Sometimes I get curious about language.  I find the origin of words and expressions fascinating.  I love to read Urban Dictionary, where people post definitions for common slang words and idioms in the English language.  I looked up “bite me.” and, sure enough, Urban Dictionary had a definition.  But then I stumbled across another site called English Language & Usage.  Six people also included information about the origin of the expression “bite me”.  The first answer posted was rather pedestrian, but the second one was fascinating.  Have a look…

This made me laugh hysterically for a few minutes.  I was especially amused by a subsequent comment left by someone who said it was equivalent to saying “Eff you”, then apologizing that he could not bring himself to “say” it.

While you can use the phrase when you mean “deal with it”, I am of the opinion that it most emphatically doesn’t mean “deal with it”, but instead is closer to when you don’t like what the other person has said or done, and express your contempt. It’s really not different than “eff you” (sorry, I can’t bring myself to say it). – ErikENov 27 ’12 at 9:04

Some people really cringe at the idea of using vulgarity and being “inappropriate”…  I think they must live very constrained lives, but if it makes ’em happy, what’s it to me?

The person who provided the above screenshot information immediately charmed me for being so apologetic and polite about the original raunch factor of “bite me”.  I had no idea.  There are several more answers posted about the origin of “bite me”, most of which caused me to giggle and reminded me of the old show, Crank Yankers, which used to be aired on Comedy Central a lot.  Crank Yankers consisted of comedians using puppets to act out crank calls they made to people.  There was a character on that show named Niles Standish, who was “inappropriate” on the phone as they pranked some unsuspecting guy who was looking for some phone sex.

Is this inappropriate?
Some inappropriate “shit” here.

I don’t often say “bite me” to people, because to me, it’s about as non-sensical as calling someone a douche.  I have ranted about my aversion to the word “douche” used as an insult on several occasions, so I’m not going to rehash it.  I’ll just say that, to me, calling someone a “douche” doesn’t make sense, nor does it make sense to say “bite me”, although I do know the conventional meaning of both expressions.  I just used “bite me” a couple of days ago because it seemed less profane, and I’d rather not be profane in my blog post titles, if I can help it.  But then, if you think about it, calling someone a “douche” or inviting them to bite you is actually very offensive if you consider what those expressions really mean.  It’s just that they’re used so often that people are now kind of unfazed by them.  They’ve become almost sanitized… and even somewhat “appropriate”.  You might even hear someone say it in church.

Because I enjoy oversharing, as regular readers of this blog certainly know, I shared on Facebook that Bill and I were having a stimulating discussion about vulgar English idioms.  I wasn’t surprised when a number of my friends who know me well had a good laugh at that.  Bill and I often discuss things that would never cross anyone else’s minds.  That’s why we’re perfect for each other.  We ended the evening by watching early episodes of America’s Next Top Model, where there was certainly a lot of “inappropriate” behavior.  I think many people secretly love it when others are “inappropriate”.  It’s the sticks in the mud who feel that a high level of decorum must be maintained by all means that ruin it for everyone else.

I’m sure plenty of people read some of my posts and wonder “WTF is wrong with that woman?”  They wouldn’t be the first to wonder that.  My own mother used to loudly exclaim, “Where did you come from?!” whenever I said or did anything she found inappropriate, obnoxious, or weird.  I always wanted to tell her that I came from an unfortunate night she spent fucking my father… and then I slid out of her womb, between her legs, all purplish and wet, kicking and screaming into the hellhole of life.  But, because I do have a sense of decorum and did not want to be knocked into the next month, I did not tell her where I literally came from.  The fact is, I came from their come…  She could have spared us all a lot of grief if she and my dad had just taken a cold shower and gone bowling or something.  Ah well… I will keep thinking and writing about goofy, inappropriate shit that upsets, shocks, annoys, and offends people.  Then, some blessed day, I won’t be able to write anymore and the world will be spared these weird, inappropriate postings from me. 

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condescending twatbags, language, overly helpful people, social media

No, I’m not gonna get on the word “ban-wagon”…

In May of 2013, Bill and I were sitting at a train station in Venice, Italy. We were waiting to catch our ride to Florence on Italo, a then brand new private Italian train company. As we were waiting, we heard an announcement in Italian about a train that was significantly delayed. The pre-recorded announcement did not use the word “delay”. Instead, it included an Italian incarnation of the word “retard”, used as an adjective.

Bill turned to me and said, “Now you see… there’s an instance in which the word “retard” is used in a completely non-offensive way.”

I have never forgotten that conversation, especially as more and more “woke” types feel the need to outright ban certain words from the English language. I am all for avoiding deliberately insulting others, especially those who suffer from any kind of intellectual disabilities that are beyond their control.

However, as I realized when we were at the train station in Italy, words have many nuances, usages, and definitions. Some words are inherently offensive, and almost always used in a hurtful way. And sometimes, people deliberately take offense at the use of a “taboo” word when absolutely no harm is intended. That causes problems that could just as easily be avoided if the person would simply be more mature and stop being willfully ignorant.

It’s been many years since I last used the word “retard” in the taboo way, although I will admit that in the 1980s, it was a word that was flung around on playgrounds and school busses with the greatest of ease. It was also used in plenty of 70s and 80s era comedies, both on television and in the movies. I can think of two films off the top of my head– very popular movies that still remain popular today–in which characters use the word “retard” as an insult.

Today, those films would probably not be made with the word “retard” used as an insult, although I would not be surprised if some incarnation of the word “douche” was used in its place. Personally, I find the word “douche” offensive for several reasons, but I’m not campaigning to have it banned. In many cultures, the word “douche” just means “shower”, and is perfectly useful and non-offensive. So rather than trying to get the word “douche” banned, I simply avoid using it myself.

As a lover of language, I can’t quite bring myself to jump on the “ban-wagon” when it comes to any word, even the ones that can start riots. I never think of words as things that should ever be banned, even when they are deemed very “offensive”. Instead, I am more concerned about context and the attitude behind the use of language. And yes, that means that I think words that people routinely campaign to have struck from the language are sometimes acceptable to use in certain contexts. To avoid being offended, it’s up to people to grow up and not be deliberately obtuse. Otherwise, they’re doomed to stay butthurt.

This morning, someone shared the below post on Facebook. If I had already had my coffee, I probably would have just rolled my eyes and ignored it. But instead, I left a response. Basically, I wrote that the word “retard” is only a slur if it’s used as an insult. There are other ways to use it that are totally neutral.

I knew I might regret leaving that comment, but the friend who shared this is usually a very understanding person. I figured she’d get what I mean. Besides, while I understand people being aggravated by insulting, demeaning language, I am aggravated by people who presume to tell me what I can or cannot say or write.

I think people should be responsible for their own use of language; most of them don’t need the language police to remind them to be “politically correct”. Frankly, I’m fed up with people who use social media as a place for that kind of soap box activism, particularly when all they’ve done is shared someone else’s viral post. Facebook was originally supposed to be fun, wasn’t it?

No, thank you, I won’t be teaching anyone that the word “retard” is worse than the word “fuck”. That’s someone’s “absolutely ridiculous” opinion… at least in MY opinion. I still get to have one, right?

Sure enough, it wasn’t long before someone came along and tried to school me about how the word “retard” is never acceptable. This person wrote that it’s no longer used by professionals and it’s outdated, etcetera, etcetera.

My response– simply because I was feeling stubborn and my verbal restraint reflex was somewhat “retarded”– was that yes, in fact, sometimes the word “retard” is perfectly acceptable and unoffensive. That word has other meanings besides the insulting one. The word “retard”, when used as a verb, means “to slow or delay”. That was how it was used at the train station in Italy. No one got offended when it was used in that way. I can think of other ways the word “retard” can be used that shouldn’t cause offense to anyone.

The person who challenged me came back and posted that she’s got autism. Actually, I believe she wrote that she’s “autistic”, and has an “autistic” child. I was a little surprised that she put it that way, since I thought the emphasis was supposed to be on the person rather than the condition. Like– I thought it was more politically correct to say, “I have autism” rather than “I’m autistic.” But I am not in that world, so I don’t know, and I wouldn’t presume to tell someone who is in that world how they should refer to themselves.

Besides, I don’t think of autism as something inherently good or bad. My husband’s older daughter is supposedly on the spectrum, but we know she is a brilliant artist and she’s proven that there’s nothing wrong with her intellect. I don’t know if she’s sorry she has autism. She no longer speaks to Bill. But, based on what I know about her, she’s got plenty of things going for her besides the condition of autism.

I responded to my friend’s friend that I was sorry that people have used the word “retard” in an offensive way, and that she is offended by its use. But I am not going to be told that I can’t use a word that I know is perfectly acceptable in many situations, simply because some group says it’s “offensive”, in and of itself. That’s wrong.

The challenger then asked me to use the word “retard” in an unoffensive way. So I wrote something along the lines of, “I see no reason to retard the development of languages by banning specific words.”

She then wrote that my answer was “stupid”. There was more to her comment, but I quit reading, because she made it clear that respectful communication and education weren’t her goals. Instead, it appeared that she wanted to disparage my intellect by referring to my answer as “stupid”. That’s brilliant, isn’t it? I guess she didn’t see the irony. She’s lecturing me about not ever using the word “retard” because it’s disrespectful and hurtful, but then she uses the word “stupid” to describe my comment and, based on her perceived tone, my intellect.

I truly didn’t want to get into a pissing match with this person, since I don’t know her and she doesn’t know me. If she did know me, she might be surprised by how “not stupid” I am, at least compared to the average person. Even if she did still think I’m stupid after meeting me, that would obviously be her uninformed and incorrect opinion.

I realized, however, that my time would probably be wasted trying to continue the conversation. As I didn’t want to get into a legitimate argument, I wrote “So now you are insulting me. That’s very nice. Have a good day.”

Normally, when a person writes “Have a good day.”, that means they’re done with the discussion and are politely trying to bow out. I figure that’s a more respectful way of leaving the conversation than telling them to “fuck off” is. But, as this person says she has autism, I guess she didn’t pick up on the social cue. She came back and wrote, “Feeling insulted, huh?” then continued with more insults…

I guess, if I were going to assign an emotion to how I felt about her response, it would be “annoyed” or maybe “puzzled”. It does seem strange to be preached at by a stranger about not offending people with intellectual disabilities by calling them “retarded” (which I never did), and then, in the next breath, having that same person refer to my comment as “stupid”.

If I had written that I thought her comment was “retarded”, what would her response be? Isn’t “stupid” just as offensive as “retarded”? At least the word “retard”, even when used an insulting way, indicates a medical condition that a person can’t help. Stupid just means a person or thing is dull-witted and unintelligent, whether or not they can help being that way. I can’t think of many ways the word “stupid” could be used that isn’t negative.

I wrote something akin to, “No, I’m not ‘feeling insulted’. You’re being hypocritical, and I have other things to do. So kindly enjoy your day, and I will continue to speak and write as I please.” I truly wasn’t “insulted” by her comment, because I would have to care about her opinion to be insulted by it. But I will admit to being annoyed by her comments and her erroneous presumptions about me. Especially, since I truly didn’t attempt to insult her.

Then she wrote some sarcastic remark about how I can keep “offending” people with special needs, but at that point, I used my block button. Because I do actually have better things to do with my time today than argue with a perfect stranger about my vocabulary. Hell, cleaning the lint out of my belly button would be a better use of my time than continuing that unproductive discussion with someone whose mind is currently closed. She obviously didn’t see my point, and wasn’t going to try to see it. Instead, she was hellbent on “winning” the argument, and doing so in a disrespectful, non-empathic way. Still, she failed to convince me, so I guess she can keep fighting the good fight with someone else.

Some people might point out that I probably “asked” for this unpleasant exchange. I would agree with them that it’s mostly pointless to point out these kinds of language discrepancies among friends. A person who would share an image like the one above probably has strong feelings about the subject matter, but hasn’t thought very long and hard about them, and is just looking for likes and loves, rather than actual commentary.

On the other hand, I do get annoyed when some busybody presumes to correct my language. I’m an adult, and fully responsible for what I say and do. If I say something egregiously obnoxious or offensive, it may be appropriate to call me out for that. But I don’t really need my friends to pre-emptively instruct me on the proper way to use language.

Moreover, I think my opinions matter as much as anyone else’s do. I’ve spent my life being told that my thoughts and feelings don’t matter, so I tend to be strong-willed and argumentative about these things, now that I am an adult. I realize it’s hard to be assertive about such things without still inadvertently offending people. Such is life.

I do get irritated when people try to tell me how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking. I think it’s disrespectful to try to read people’s minds, especially when they’re strangers. Maybe I would be happier if I just “let it go”, but I think that people who are able to do that often don’t think about much more other than what’s right in front of them.

Either that, or they’re like that Japanese monk Bill and I ran into a few years ago, who just radiated peace, serenity, and calmness. I have seen very few people like that in my lifetime. I would actually LOVE to be like that monk… although I realize I am ASSUMING he is actually as calm as he appeared. For all I know, he’s got a hot temper.

Perhaps today I will go out of my way to use the word “retard” in non-offensive ways. Of course, around here, most people speak German and don’t speak to me, anyway, so that effort might be lost on them. Also… when it comes to grammar policing, all bets are off.

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rants

There is no “we” in he…

One of my greatest pet peeves is when people include themselves in another person’s singular event. For example, I can’t stand it when people say, “We got pregnant.” Um… biological males do not get pregnant. It’s impossible. A man deposits his sperm into a fertile woman and she gets pregnant. Once she’s pregnant, his part of babymaking is over until the baby is born.

I know people say “we got pregnant” so that the man feels like he is a part of the pregnancy. But until that fetus is dancing on his bladder from the inside, he has no idea. Until his nether regions are ripped up or his abdomen is cut open to get the baby out, pregnancy is not an experience he can relate to. Hey… until he has a positive pregnancy test, and it’s not because he has a disease (testicular cancer), he’s never been pregnant and, therefore, is not a part of “we” in “we got pregnant”. Fuck that. Incidentally, a man doesn’t “deposit his seed”, either. Sperm is fertilizer, not seed. If one is going to use the euphemism “seed”, it makes more sense for it to refer to the woman’s egg. Fertilizer isn’t the same thing as seed.

But I realize that’s just me… and I am a lot more uptight about language than most people are. I am also an irritable person, especially as I get older. This morning, I encountered yet another annoyance. This time, it was in the Duggar Family News group. Someone had posted a screenshot of Sierra Dominguez and her baby, who was just diagnosed with RSV bronchiolitis. Sierra, who despite having been helicoptered with her baby boy to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, had the time and composure to write a lengthy Instagram post complete with several pictures regarding her son’s medical condition. Behold:

“We were diagnosed”? Is she sick, too?

I have to admit, I stopped reading when I read “we were diagnosed”. Yes, I’m that uptight about language. I get that momma Sierra is concerned about her baby, but unless she’s also coughing, wheezing, and feeling horrible, there is no “we” in this case of RSV bronchiolitis. The baby is sick. You’re not, Sierra… at least not yet. Hang around the hospital for awhile, and that could change. Unless she actually is sick… which maybe she is.

Anyway, that’s just me and my pet peeves. I do hope baby Merrick recovers quickly and no one else gets sick. I’m sure Sierra is scared, and posting on Instagram is one way she gets moral support. Still, while she’s understandably very worried about her son, he’s the one who’s sick. She doesn’t have a diagnosis of RSV; he does. Correct pronoun use is essential.

Moving on…

Looking at the photos from Sierra’s Instagram post just reminded me of another unpleasant memory. It’s unrelated to Sierra’s situation or the fact that I hate it when people include themselves in someone’s individual experiences (ie: “How are WE doing today?”). Sierra has included a photo of her baby boy, wrapped up in blankets and hooked up to machines. And that reminded me of the summer of 2014, when my father was dying after he’d had emergency gallbladder surgery.

I have three sisters. They’re all significantly older than I am. They were 13, 11, and 8 years old when I was born. Because of the age gap, sometimes my sisters treat me like I don’t have any sense. They become manipulative to the point of insulting my intelligence and my character. This has happened so much in my life that I have become exquisitely sensitive to it, to the point at which I get really angry when it happens. I think being manipulative, rather than being straightforward, is the height of disrespect.

In the summer of 2014, Bill had just left the Army and was job hunting. Just before my dad’s gallbladder attack, he was in talks to join Cubic, a government contractor, on an assignment in Stuttgart, Germany. We were living in San Antonio, Texas at the time, while my parents were in Hampton, Virginia. We didn’t have a lot of money to spare, nor was it the greatest time for us to drop everything and fly to Virginia. We had just a few weeks to plan our international move.

One of my sisters, who is worse about being manipulative than the other two, went to Virginia and took a picture of my father lying in his hospital bed, tethered to machines and covered with a huge CPAP mask (he’d had severe sleep apnea). She sent me the photo with a very shitty two line email about how I needed to come to Virginia to see him. Naturally, I was extremely pissed off at her for taking that photo and sending it to me as if I needed convincing that the situation was serious. I didn’t need her to send me a picture of my dad in that condition, nor was I taking orders from her. I was in touch with our mom, who had been keeping me apprised of the situation. I didn’t need her input or “help”. However, because we were already stressed out and I knew ripping my sister a new one would make things much worse, I simply replied with “Thanks for the update.”

I don’t know why my sister felt it was necessary to take a picture of our father on the brink of death as a means of convincing me to come to Virginia. I found it very hurtful that she’d assume that I needed that kind of “proof” that he was that ill. She basically sold me short, assuming that I’m that much of a selfish asshole that I needed to see a photo of him on his deathbed. By sending that picture, she implied that I didn’t care about our dad. I did care about him. In fact, I loved him. I didn’t always like him very much, but I had good reasons for feeling that way. It was neither appropriate for her to send that picture of him to me to try to convince me to visit, nor was it even really her business.

My sister is a controlling person, and I think she has trouble trusting that people will do the right thing. I don’t understand why she feels so free to be such an asshole to me, since I’m sure she doesn’t do this shit to everyone she encounters. In retrospect, maybe I should have sent her the seething, scathing email I had composed in my mind and in a blog post that I later deleted, because I was so hot with fury when I wrote it. Maybe she would have gotten the point that I’m now a grown woman and she would get a lot further with me if she’d simply make respectful requests or suggestions rather than manipulative demands. I can’t stand manipulators. They really piss me off.

Incidentally, I don’t remember if I told our mother that my sister took the photo. I don’t think I did, because I knew it would upset her. I’m sure she would NOT have approved of it. It was unnecessary, disrespectful, and just plain RUDE— and more to him, than to me.

But then, as if the tasteless photo of our dad wasn’t enough, when it became clear that my dad was going to die very soon, this same sister sent me instructions on how to speak to our mother! She wrote, “If you call Mom, please be kind…” As if I wouldn’t have been kind to our mother under these circumstances. She seems to forget that speaking to people in crisis was to be my career. I actually have professional training in it. Aside from that, I’m not such an asshole that I would deliberately pick a fight with our mom, especially as her husband of 56 years is on his deathbed.

Once again, I resisted the strong urge to tell my sister, in no uncertain terms, to go fuck herself. However, I ultimately responded, once again, with “Thanks for the update.” That’s all that really needed to be said, although the temptation to escalate the situation was definitely there. I was really pissed. What sucks is that the situation doesn’t escalate when I respond calmly, but I’m still left furious that, once again, I’m being forced to interact with an asshole… because I assure all of my readers, I don’t start this shit. I do my very best to avoid people who piss me off. They contact me, and usually with ill-conceived emails, unexpected visits, private messages, or public comments on Facebook or my blog. 🙂

I had actually forgotten about that incident involving my sister sending our dad’s photo… but Sierra’s Instagram picture of her baby in the hospital brought it all roaring back to me. I think if my sister does something like that when it’s time for our mom to pass, I will give in to the urge to tell her that it’s not appropriate to send pictures of people who are on their deathbeds as a means of getting other people to do your bidding. I think I will also tell her that if she thinks so little of me that she feels the need to be manipulative, she can count herself minus a sister. Life is much too short to have to deal with that crap.

Ah well… it’s Sunday, foggy, and chilly. Guess I’ll quit writing this post and go work on a puzzle.

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