The Zero Mile Post marked the meeting of two railway lines and possibly the beginning of the city of Atlanta.
I try not to swear. I do, but I’d rather not. I have kids of an impressionable age. They are teens and pre-teens who are increasingly exposed to bad language. I like to lead by example.
“Language,” I tell them, “is powerful. To get people to listen to you, you must first prove that you can listen. Then, you must say something that has meaning. No need to repeat the mantra of the crowd. No need to be shocking. Shock value has little value. There is no need to curse. Cursing is a like a flare. Only use it in case of an emergency.”
My dad couldn’t stand swearing. He wouldn’t allow bad language in our house. Growing up, we didn’t curse. Cursing was something reserved for college and life away from home. Swearing would never be acceptable, no matter our age.
My dad loved movies. He would sit through war movies and mafia movies and not flinch at the most cringe-worthy violence. I remember watching “Saving Private Ryan” with my dad. A character got his head blown off and another ran down the beach carrying his dismembered arm. Someone in the movie cried out, “Let’s get the f*ck out of here.” My dad shook his head at the screen and said, “Why do they have to use such language?”
I asked, “Daddy, a guy with a blown off head is okay, but not the F word?”
“There’s no reason to use such language,” he said, in all seriousness.
We accepted this part of his personality. He’d watch “Scarface” and “Platoon” and movies filled with chainsaws and bludgeoning. My sisters and I would wait for his very calm, “There’s no reason to use such language.”
I would respond with, “Dad, the bludgeoning!”
For my father there were two great sins: Taking the Lord’s name in vain and cursing.
I wonder if I am cursed. I don’t take the Lord’s name in vain ever, but I occasionally like to swear. I put asterisks and exclamation points in my profanity when I write.
If you hear me curse, pay attention. I’m having an emergency. Throw me a f*cking lifeline. I’m more reckless than my father, but I still like to be careful with language. I enjoy the Oxford comma and resent that it doesn’t have its proper place in AP style. I think, “That’s f*cking bulls*t!” And then I realize that swearing is f*cking amazing!
My dad was from a sh*thole country call Jamaica. The problem with Jamaica was the g-dd*mn British Imperialism and the subsequent abandonment into a f*cking post-colonial era. The impact of f*cking Colonialism and Imperialist bullsh*t has been known to create sh*tholes countries all across the world. It’d be nice if the Queen of England and other Rulers of the Free World would own up to their f*cking part of the exploitation of aboriginal and indigenous and enslaved people, but they no longer give a f*ck. This is why immigrants flock to f*cking new worlds to spread their f*cking awesomeness to different sh*tholes.
But I digress.
After my dad left that sh*thole Jamaica, we moved to a new sh*thole called America. Specifically, New Haven, Connecticut. My dad worked at f*cking Yale University. That’s a sh*thole of a university if I’ve ever seen one. The stone buildings are old as sh*t. What a dump.
Then we left sh*tty New England for the super sh*tty South.
Atlanta is a sh*thole. Georgia is a sh*thole. The entire universe is a cesspool of poop.
But I don’t really think that.
I am not by nature a reactionary person. I’m not interested in writing response pieces. I try to avoid shock value content and click-bait titles. I like this world and the people I meet. If things are wrong, I hope to contribute to the solution. If there is a disagreement, I will be respectful and try to understand the different perspectives. Even yours. Even his. Even hers. Even theirs.
I’m not happy wasting my curiosity about life and people on people who are not curious or respectful about the same. We shouldn’t waste our time, our anger, our energy looking into the infinite sh*tholes that will block our path as we walk on this journey called life. Plug your nose. Look away. Step around the shock and awe of the inane and unworthy.
I don’t like to use of foul language. I get why people do it. I don’t like it.
To be very clear: I am f*cking sick of this bulls*t.
My father would not like my language. And neither do I.
Nicki Salcedo knows the loops and the back roads of Atlanta. She is a novelist, blogger and working mom. The Zero Mile column appears on the Atlanta Loop on Wednesdays.