Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of old Finnish pop in the car. So much so that the other day, I heard Son and Daughter sing one 1975 song in their rooms. This song, to be exact. And I can’t say I don’t like it, because I do. I remember exactly how funny I thought that song was myself, back in, well, 1975, when I was the same age Son is now.
On the CD that I have – or, on the playlist I have on my iPod – that song is followed by a politically satirical song about a Finnish politician that the singer-songwriter calls Midas. And before I knew it, the song had started, and Son heard the words “king” and “Midas” and absolutely wanted to hear it.
This is where I realized I had a bit of a problem. Not a huge one, nothing I couldn’t handle, just something I’d rather not handle.
See, in the chorus, the singer-songwriter sings how “if you touch anything after Midas, you’re sure to hit your hands on shit.”
Shit. I realized that Son (and Daughter) would hear that and I don’t want them walk around using that word. Not in Finnish. Not yet. I’m fine with Son still saying, “Thunderstorm! Skull! Star! Exclamation point!” when he’s angry.
I remember the first time I slipped a swear word out of my mouth at home. I was in a great mood, just bubbly happy, telling Dad something in the sauna, in the basement of our apartment building and just as he left the sauna room, I think I slipped the Finnish equivalent of the F-bomb. I can’t not sure, and I know Dad didn’t react in any way, so maybe he didn’t hear me.
Besides, I was 22.
Just kidding. I was 12.
Mom and Dad never swore, they never cussed anyone, ever. Dad used very mild versions of the real swear words, and the first time I heard him drop the F-bomb – at a hockey practice – I was shocked. By then, I may have been 22 for real. Last summer, my mother used coarse language – in a conversation with me – and I still haven’t recovered from that.
As a kid, I never used any swear words at home, even though I have to say I was quite the master outside the house.
Even today, I never swear in front of my parents. Or my kids. Wife sometimes may hear me blurt out a few chosen words, but, naturally, never aimed at her. Basically, home, and family, are cussword free zones.
I swear when I play hockey. And in traffic when the car in front of me won’t move at the change of the lights. Or, when I’m watching hockey. Or, in traffic when the car in front of me doesn’t show a turning signal. And when I hurt myself. And, when I watch the Swedish hockey magazine on TV. And of course, in traffic when it moves too slow.
But only when I’m driving solo.
I’m not totally opposed to swearing, quite the contrary. There’s a time and place for everything, even for foul language. It can be powerful, it makes electrical appliances work better, the jokes funnier, and according to studies, swearing makes pain more tolerable. A beautifully crafted curse – Captain Haddock style – simply bends the boundaries of language to the point of poetry.
And of course, it makes the traffic run smoother.
I just don’t need any help from the back seat for that.