I started cussing at an early age. Not the occasional slip of the mouth either. I did know better not to cuss in front of authority figures, but when I was with my brother or friends, I would let the sordid vituperation fly. I think this was standard for most children of my day and even of the youth now. The young mind will always take to the forbidden simply because it is forbidden.
Because of my many years of practice, I would like to think I have become reasonably adept in foul speech. But I do remember my earlier days applying swears to my parlance. Shame comes rushing in to think of how I would prate on and on with those delicate instruments. My lips had become ever so loose with fucks and shits and bitches. I was capering toward an inexorable disaster.
And so, the calamity came…
My elementary school was a public school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I wouldn’t say it was in the ghetto, but it was no uppity well funded school either. The building was older, the classes were packed, and we couldn’t talk during lunch. The teachers had difficulty enforcing the expected silence. If you broke the serenity, you were taken out of line and sat down at a table; made to wait until everyone was through. Annoying when you were a hungry kid, stomach rumbling for your processed meats and canned vegetables.
So, inevitably I was caught talking. I was yanked from the line and sat down at the waiting table. Beside me, I remember, was a kid I knew. I rested my head in my hand, with my elbow on the table, enveloped in disgrace. I turned toward the kid and mouthed the word “fuck”. The teacher who pull me from the line comes storming over. I can still see her: she was pretty and until that day I liked her. She leaned into me bringing her face level with mine; head shaking she asked, “Did you just call me a bitch?” I thought the human mouth made completely different shapes when saying the word “fuck” versus “bitch”. With this assumed evidence, I denied calling her a bitch.
She was thrown into a histrionic fit only controlled by the surrounding public. With her arms folded and her eyes fixed upon me she marched back and forth from her post, watching the line, to me. Each time she reached me she brings her accusations. I hold fast. But she remained unconvinced, ever certain I spoke the word “bitch”.
After her constant assault and pressure, I relented. I admitted to the not spoken bitch. Her accusations mollified, she takes me from the cafeteria to her classroom. Something to note: she taught the not-fit-for-normal-classrooms students. A handful of these kids were in the room with us. She stood before her cronies and announced, “He called your teacher a bitch, what do you think of that?”
A couple of the kids perked up, eager to defend the name of their teacher. I was sobbing and frightened. I don’t remember being scared for my physical safety, like these kids were gonna beat the shit out of me– I just felt helpless and scared my mom would know of my cussing. Two of the kids came sauntering over, and stood before my quivering form. They began blasting me with invectives. I remember one kid looking down upon me from an upturned chin; jabbing me with two fingers while threats slid from his mouth.
I don’t recall much after the verbal assault. I know I was sent back to my class still sobbing. I sat down at my table and continued to cry. I remember none of the teachers attempting to console me. One of my classmates at my table asked , “What’s wrong with him?” The teacher replied, “He has his own problems.”
My mom was never contacted and nothing else became of the incident. I assume the teacher knew her creditability was wrecked after she had punished me on her own terms.
I don’t blame the teacher for anything. Only, the event remains lodged within my subconscious. I hate how weak she made me feel. She is a rotten and spoiled memory for me. But again, I can’t get too angry with her because I know I have created plenty of my own rotten and spoiled memories for others.
But you know what? back in the day I wish I had the capability to say, “Fuck you teacher. You cunt faced slithering bitch. What? you’re not paid enough to inspire, instead; you gotta take your penis envy out on some poor defenseless kid?”