Oh! La-la!

When I was growing up, I never heard any swear words in my home. My mother, Ozark born, would utter something that sounded like “Gall-darnit,” or “shoot,” and that was the extent of it, the short range of frustrated expressions.  All those naughty, sinful, take-the-name-of-thy-lord-in-vain words were heard at slumber parties, on the school yard or in the girl’s locker room (along with talk of “your period,” whose had started and who was still compulsively checking their underwear hoping soon to become a real woman).

This morning at breakfast our houseguest Bob, said that his father, when agitated, would say to him, “Well, don’t get your tit in a wringer.” I can’t imagine. But I do remember once when my mother said, “Cheryl, I think your halo is slipping.” I only wish I could remember why she said it. Does it imply that she thought I was an angel most of the time? I doubt that. Does it imply that she thought that I fancied myself an angel and had just blown it by something I did or said? Probably. Did it have to do with sex? Undoubtedly.

When we were young we used to chant a jump rope song we thought delightfully racy, but we didn’t know why:
Oh! La-la
French mama
fourteen kids and
no papa!

I told this to my French teacher, Sebastien, and he got quite a laugh. It so represents the 50s American idea that the French are so sexy. The Bridget Bardot, Alain Delon days. And I suppose we still have this romanticized notion of the French. If you see a couple kissing on the metro, it’s romantic, whereas here if someone is making out in public, people walk by and mutter, “Get a room.” (Note the unconscious reference to “kissing” versus “making out,” for example.) I’ve actually heard students say this in the hallways of the university, like they’re annoyed at the enamored couple. And I don’t know why, on the metro, it suggests valentines and in a college hall, it exudes some crudity that we can’t name. Could it be sex? We need to lighten up.

As Bob’s father probably also said, “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.”
It’s just amore. Get used to it.

One comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    I heard crazy swearing like ‘By George’ instead of By God. Lots of creative swearing in the south. 😉

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