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As an English grad, I like to be precise with language. You know, if someone is being an a__hole, that’s what I like to call them. I may not say it out loud, but you can bet my little brain is whizzing away, thinking those rude thoughts.

Having grown up in a household where my father’s business was in the construction industry and his ‘friends’ may have been thugs or mobsters (no proof, just suspicions), my ‘off colour’ vocabulary is vast. My mother’s stern, Christian Values stinkeye was enough to dissuade me from bursting out with bad words while I was at home. A Lady did not say such things. Fast forward to the years in Berkeley and then my own kids’ college years, and we all have the mouths of sailors. This is not to say that we use them all the time, but it’s nice to know the capacity is there should you need it.

A few years ago, I came up with a term that I use only when driving — and only when another driver has been guilty of an egregious error in judgment (by that I mean he’s pissed me off). I yell, at the top of my lungs, “Stupid idiot!” Gill chides me for this term and thinks it is hilariously funny. I fail to see why.

For some reason, that is the phrase I always use when driving…and ONLY when in the car. I don’t know why. It is often accompanied by the middle-finger salute, but the phrase is spit out with such fervor and passion that it could probably stand on its own. Gill doesn’t think so, however. On several occasions, when she’s in the car during one of these ‘episodes’, she’ll glare at me and scream, “Why don’t you just honk your horn at the guy?” Then, before I know what’s happening, she’ll lean over and honk several times, aggressively, for me. “Why did you do that?” I demand. “That’s just rude and now he’ll be mad at us. Perhaps even vent some road rage!”

“What? Your passive-aggressive ‘stupid idiot’ and finger performance isn’t gonna annoy him enough?”

“Well, maybe he didn’t actually hear or see me.”

“So what was the f—ing point?”

“Don’t use that foul language at your mother!”

“Why? You’ll call me a ‘stupid idiot’ and I’ll cringe in fear?”

“Harrumph…it’s MY phrase and I’ll use it when I want to. Just because you’re ill-tempered and rash doesn’t mean I have to stoop to that level.”

“Ma, can’t you just say ‘F___ off’ like everyone else? It would be so much simpler…”

When the kids were young, I rarely swore. Out loud. In my head, I was a regular Lenny Bruce. But I wanted to be a good influence on the kids. And mine may not have been quick learners at school, but mutter a bad word under your breath once and it became a regular component of their vocabulary.

Now, it seems they have become my  own personal Language Police. They don’t castigate me for using bad language. They laugh…and laugh…and laugh. When they’re finished laughing, they goad me into using it again. They think I don’t see through their tactics. One day, I’m going to call them on it. I might say something like: “I cancelled your credit cards, changed the locks on my door, revoked your right to drive my car, and left everything to Mrs. Beeton(the pink parakeet) in my will. Now who thinks the term ‘Stupid Idiot’ is funny?”

Silence.

“I thought not…”

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