Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Childhood Talent

When I was a little girl I had an amazing talent that astounded all the relatives that would hear me.

It was such an amazing talent that many times they offered me money to perform, much to the dismay of my parents who didn't feel my talent warranted all this fame.

More than likely my parents were scared to be blamed for my ability to perform this talent so well at such a young age. Where did I learn this talent from? Was it from my dad? My Mom?

We lived out in the country on the ranch my dad worked at. I was the oldest child and therefore had no older sibling to help me cultivate this talent.

I’m sure by now you are wondering what this amazing talent of mine was? Do I still have this talent? Do I still perform for relatives? Do I still perform for money? Ok, that question looks as bad in writing as it sounded in my head!

My amazing talent??? Was it singing? Yodeling? Playing an instrument?

Nope, Nope and Nope! It was my ability to curse in Spanish with a smattering of curse words in English thrown in just for fun.

Family and friends were stunned and mesmerized by how I was able to curse in fluent Spanish. I don’t know where I learned these words, but they were doozy's!

And not only did I know these words in Spanish but I had this knack of stringing them all together in one fluid sentence, without hesitation, without tripping over the words. Boy howdy did I impress my relatives! Is it any wonder they offered me money? And this was in the days of penny candy when with 50 cents I could buy 50 pieces of candy!!! And I did love my candy in those days!

You can understand now how my parents probably felt and why they were dismayed, because definitely I had to be learning these words from one of them as I wasn't even school age yet!

You've all seen that fabulous movie A Christmas Story right? I know I watch it several times each holiday season and love it!

There's a part in the movie where little Ralphie lets out with a swear word and his mother is stunned and wants to know "where did you hear that word?" Well as Ralphie said about his dad, "Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master." And then they wash his mouth out with soap!

Love that movie, and I can probably guess where I learned all my swear words too, my old man!

This post was inspired by the novel J by Howard Jacobson, about a world where collective memory has vanished and the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited. As a member of the online book club From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book for review purposes. 



  1. HAHAHAHA do your parents ever mention it?

    1. My mom mentions it once in a while and almost all my aunts and uncles will bring it up when we have family gatherings :)

  2. oh that is priceless! you had me laughing throughout AND taking me back to when my children were younger and the first time I heard a swear word come from their mouthes!

    1. It really is shocking isn't it? First thing you think of is what Ralphie's mom thought, Where did you hear that!!! Hahahaha!

  3. Replies
    1. Oh definitely Kim! It's just not as cute!

  4. "It ... it... was soap poisoning"..."I told you not to use Lifebuoy."

    The childhood you and the adult me have something in common. While I certainly had a diverse and rich vocabulary as a child, I was rather careful not to use is around my mother. She didn't believe in soap or waiting until my father got home, she like Mrs Schwartz took matters in her own hands and delivered swift and sure justice.

    The Christmas Story is a magnificent movie.

    My crowning glory was to have gotten caught by my mother's best friend giving a strip tease down in the woods for the girls in the neighborhood. I was 7 and one of my boyhood chums had negotiated a deal with the girls, considerably older than me, that if we would perform, they would in kind return the favor. So there my buddy and I are dancing completely naked to the tune of "All The Girls in France, They Wear No Under Pants." We got a little loud in insisting on our return show which was being resisted, and the woman caught us bare assed naked. The woman told my mother that evening when she had stopped down her house for coffee. I doubt my mother finished the coffee, she came storming up the street and caught me in the front yard, hauled my pants down around my ankles and started beating the hell out of me with her bare hand. Meanwhile her own tapestry of obscenity was woven..."You little goddamned bastard. You want to show your bare ass to the girls (actually it was the full frontal nudity that the girls were interested in not our asses), well I'll show them your ass, and it is going to be redder than a baboon's ass." Her hand got sore, so she dragged me in the house, with the pants still around my ankles and continued with the GI canvas belt kept on hand for the purpose of correcting wayward children. Well after that, I was careful to mind my tongue and keep my clothes on.

    1. That definitely is a magnificent movie! Can't wait to watch it this holiday season.

      Wow, can you imagine your mom doing that in this day and age? I remember recently being at the grocery store and there was a woman with a little girl about age 4 or 5 and the kid was just horrible. Cried the whole time, whined, ripped things off the shelf and threw them on the floor, kicked her mom from the little seat in the shopping cart. She was horrible!

      When I was leaving and going through the parking lot this mom had had enough and she took the little girl out of the cart and right there in the parking lot began spanking her. She spanked her on the butt, with her pants still on, but she kept exclaiming very loudly "Yes, I'm spanking my daughter, she misbehaved and I told her I would spank her butt when we got out of the store if she didn't behave and no one better tell me I'm abusing her or say any crap to me cause this child deserves a good spanking!"

      Poor mom was defending herself for spanking her child for fear that someone would call the cops or call her out on it. Yeah...I don't think your mom could have done that in this day and age!

    2. I could fault my mother for the severity of that particular incident. She had a weird fear that her children were put on this earth to mortally embarrass her through pregnancy. The fact that girls were involved weighted heavily against me. One wouldn't ordinarily apply that to seven year olds, but my mother ran her house like Joseph Stalin and the best way to quash dissidence was in the bud.

      Otherwise any ass beatings I got, I richly deserved including the one described above. I don't dispute that I deserved a spanking, just the severity of it. I knew what I was doing was wrong, at least in my mother's world in the 50s. Had that been my son I would have been amused and would have gently reminded him that we should endeavor to keep our clothes on. My mother found no amusement in that and she was going to beat the perversion right out of me before the evil could take root and I would become the world's first 8 year old father. Just her luck.

      My sister had a particular willful nature as a young child. I used to look on in amazement as my sister would throw a tantrum over wanting to do something against my mother's wishes. It was Olympian at times. But I must say by the time my sister reached 5 years of age, she like I, was a model child.

      I think back at the times I misbehaved in school. I either got paddled or detention. Now we have advanced and school discipline has been turned over to the criminal justice system. Smoking in the boy's room used to get you an afternoon of detention. Now it gets you a trip to the magistrate, a juvenile record, a $300 fine, and so many hours of community service. The assistant principal acts as the prosecuting district attorney at these hearings.

      Ahhh things are much better today. Imagine my striptease conducted now. If one of the participants had a cell phone with a camera, in many jurisdictions of the US, we could all be rounded up and charged with child pornography, put in juvenile detention until we were 18 and then spend a few more years in adult prison, and two decades on a sex offenders list. I give thanks that I was a child in the 50s and only got my ass beat.

    3. This comment makes me wonder what in your mom's past scared her so much into believing that such strict discipline was necessary to keep you from straying from the straight and narrow path she felt you should be on. I'm sure you've probably thought about it before, does knowing her childhood, her parents help you any to understand why your mother was as she was?

      I was paddled once in school. Someone did something wrong and the teacher wanted someone to come forth and point the finger but no one did...and if no one else was going to then neither was I, so I sat there quietly. In the end, when no one would come forward she said we would all be spanked and she led us all outside and had us wait in a line by the door and we all came in one at a time and bent over and chair and she gave us each one good swat with a paddle. I was mortified!!! Not so much from the spanking or being physicality of it, but of my teacher thinking that I deserved a spanking, I have always tried so hard to be the good little girl!

      Excellent discussion you raise Sextant, I always look forward to your comments!

    4. In answer to your question, I would say mostly the times. My grandparents were brought up in Victorian times. So they had a severe set of cultural morals imposed on them. The first World War then created the Lost Generation which didn't apply to my grandparents per se but still had a cultural effect that resulted in the excesses of the 20s and the moral backlash against it. Before the depression, times were difficult on their hardscrabble farm, after, times were extremely hard. Lack of understanding of sexuality and the difficulty of obtaining contraceptives when my mother grew up certainly played a part, and perhaps a moral backlash to WWII and post war morality. Then there was the new invention of kids in the 1950s. Kids when my mother grew up were small adults that were indentured servants on the farm. Kids in the 1950s were something new. Post war boom economics and the sheer number of us created something of a culture of professional children (the me generation). Our parents were a generation that grew up with severe deprivation and then fought WWII. They wanted something better for their kids and I have to wonder if part of that was that we were something of possessions to our parents, much like their homes and cars, and we were not supposed to grow up.

      Bear in mind that my commentary here is limited to my circumstances, members of the suburban post war industrial middle class.

      One thing that always amazed me about my mother's tales of the depression and of her teen years was the rate of out of wedlock pregnancy both teen and otherwise. Her small rural high school was tiny compared to the suburban joint district affair I went to in the 60s. Yet her stories were constantly peppered with tales of girls getting pregnant and having to get married. When I went to high school we had a school population of about 1400 kids. I remember one girl getting pregnant. I am sure there were more, but I only knew of one girl in three years. And the boomers invented sex in the late 60's. Ha! That greatest generation was far hornier than we were. Anyhow when I think of this relative difference (again bearing in mind I am talking of the particular slice of culture that I grew up in, post war suburban industrial) I think that getting pregnant in my mother's culture of rural depression, while soaked in moral horror, was almost something of a tool to get young couples to marry in circumstances that seemed impossible. In our generation, it was something that "children" didn't do. We had opportunity and college ahead of us. After I graduated from high school, the drug culture kicked in and I knew of far more kids that died of overdoses, than girls getting pregnant, or young men dying in Vietnam. When I came home from the service in 1974, the world was a far different place than when I graduated from high school in 1967.

      Oops too long, continued below.

    5. Continued from above.

      More specific, my grandmother was a hell an brimstone fire breathing moralist and sexist. Her stories always included some "young _______ (heifer, whooo-er, harlot, Jezebel) who couldn't wait to go out and get herself knocked up." You would think by listening to my grandmother, that these whooo-ers (yes pronounced like what owl says with an er on the end) did all this impregnating on their own. The males in these tale if mentioned at all were somehow blameless or perhaps just regarded much like bulls on a dairy farm. I never heard much invective against them other than the occasional invective against a "whooooo-er master." Rarely mentioned though. They were simply a force of nature that girls and women were somehow supposed to avoid and control. If you are dumb enough to fall of cliff, you don't blame the cliff. I never quite understood the lopsidedness of my grandmother's invective.

      One time I stopped in to see my mother a few months after my grandmother's death. My mother was crying. What the hell? She said her brother had just found my grandparents marriage license. It seemed that my oldest aunt was born 3 or 4 months premature. It was something of a medical miracle, a normal birth weight child born 3 months prematurely in 1913. My mother, 55 at the time, who spent much of 1946 and 1947 shacked up with my father, is crying because my grandmother got pregnant out of wedlock in 1913? Good God get a grip!

      I almost fell out of the chair laughing. My mother was shocked, how could I find this funny. I said well I guess the "heifer couldn't wait to go out and get herself knocked up." My grandmother was 26 at the time and apparently fearing old maid-hood. I hate to say it, but with the sorry bastard that my grandfather was, she would have been better off as an old maid.

      But in answer to your question, yes I have thought about it quite a bit, but as you can see, I have no idea.

      Ahaaa! You got paddled to avoid being a tattle tale. Good for you. It obviously built character. I don't remember any of the girls ever getting paddled when I went to school. For boys it seemed to be a guaranteed process.

    6. Wow! Yes, I can see that you've given it quite a bit of thought. I guess every generation has it's own changes and ideas to deal with. You know you've gotten old when you start talking about the weird thing these young'uns are doing!

      In the book that prompted this post there is a part very similar to your mom finding out that her mom got pregnant out of wedlock. One of the main characters in the book in looking through papers left behind after the death of father and he discovers a shocking truth about his parents. They were first cousins and as he delves deeper he realizes that cousins might be a euphemism and perhaps there was even a bit of incest involved? He was shocked and needless to say it made him start wondering what kind of animal he must be. I haven't quite finished the book yet, but I think you would really like this one.

      You never know what you are going to find while going through deceased relatives belongings!

      One thing that definitely never has changes is the unmarried pregnant women are all in cahoots with the Virgin Mary, there never is a male involved!

      Great comment Sextant!

    7. Regarding the Virgin Mary, I loved the comment in The Goddess of Small Victories,

      For me, religion was a family relic that collected dust on the mantelpiece. The most you’d hear from the chorus girls in their dressing room was the prayer: “Blessed Mary, who became the mother of a child without doing it, please let me do it without becoming a mother!” We were all afraid of getting stuck with a little lodger, and I was no exception.

      Grannec, Yannick (2014-10-14). The Goddess of Small Victories (p. 12). Other Press. Kindle Edition.

      Indeed another of God's jokes on humanity with an especially cruel punch line for women.

      I love the fact that today we have DNA testing and many of these blameless males get caught literally by their balls. It is no longer a case of "he said...she said." My theory on this is that if you are man enough bed a woman then be man enough to be a daddy. If you don't have it in you to be a daddy, then keep it in your pants.

  5. I bet one day you'll be walking or driving and it'll hit you from nowhere where you learned all the Spanish curse words! Share with us when it happens!

    1. Well my dad was from Mexico, so he and my mom spoke Spanish in the house. I was their first born and I am pretty sure that Spanish was my first language. I don't remember my dad cursing, but I'm pretty sure I picked it up from him! My mom never swore and even now doesn't swear but my dad thought it was hilarious to get a rise out of my mom by swearing :)

  6. Replies
    1. I wish everyone had phones with video then...I would have been a viral sensation! :)


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