of Austerity

December 30, 2011

One might assume, as much as I mention or write about him, that my Father and I were close. We were not.
In fact, it’s accepted that in the end, he despised me. Accepted, being the operative word.
Perhaps it’s as easy to assume, knowing that, I’ve come to romanticize his memory in hopes of somehow shedding that awful truth. Perhaps.
He was flawed, very, but then who among might cast that first stone? Not I, that’s for sure.
For all his flaws, he was also had a great hand in determining the Man I’ve become. Flaws and all. But then…he would, wouldn’t he.
I’d liked to have been able to pick and choose among his many influences and so it’s at this years end that I, in my romanticizing, will again forgo cursing.
Mark, my Brother, remembers differently but I cannot recall a single instance of my Father cursing. Not one.
Lord knows I gave him cause.
This will be my fourth, or fifth, attempt in what has become, for me, a New Years ritual. My last attempt, failing miserably and the first, having lasted the longest.
I’ve noticed, there is a point one reaches, after a few months, that it is the curse that suddenly sounds oddly out of place. That is the hump. Some time later, hearing someone swear aloud, can actually have me cringe. I imagine it’s a little like giving up meat…the longer you go without, the easier it is and the more distasteful it seems.
Only, sitting down to a nice, medium rare prime rib hardly has you seem an imbecile. Swearing, incessantly, certainly does.
Now, I hardly notice it. That, in itself, is disturbing because in my best attempt, it was shocking to hear how often foul language was used as filler in conversation. How people would, like a small child’s “huh?”, insert the F-bomb at frequent intervals to allow for their thoughts to catch up with their mouths.
That’s where I’m at currently.
My disdain for swearing is not out of some priggish notion of 19th century charm or civility…fuck that…but from a gaining appreciation of austerity.
A good. solid profanity can be, if used sparingly, a very powerful thing.
My Father had little trouble getting my attention (keeping it, was another matter) but had I ever heard him let go with a forbidden expletive, I would have known that serious just got very serious.
It’s balance I’m looking for here.
So, out of some romantized idea of tribute to a flawed but distinct presence in my life and my want of just being more like him, I will, this New Year, try again.
Wish me luck and please….don’t make me angry.

7 Responses to “of Austerity”

  1. K8 said

    I wish you well in your resolution, Roland. Anyone’s personal goals to improve themselves deserve respect. Personally I love swearing. I don’t like it in that every-second-word way. I think a fine curse is like a delicious dessert, and one can’t enjoy it if it’s inserted throughout the day. I never swore in front of my parents. They never swore (once I heard my dad say “Damn” in the hallway when I was in bed and I was quite shocked). So I’m quite used to having 2 or more lexicons that I can switch at will. Of course, I don’t swear at work. I may insert a “beep” sound effect at times of high emotion (usually when telling my student s a story). I think it fits in with my love of words in all their colors. You know I love words more than you right? Did you also know that swearing can help you endure pain? Scientifically proven! (Two groups had to endure pain, one with a random word, one with a favorite curse word, the group with the curse lasted longer.) Well, anyway, the way I interpret your New Years goal is that you are now swearing in a way that you perceive as being outside of your personal taste (such is the way of bad habits). I encourage the idea of bringing your own behavior in line with how you want to be. I know a lot about failing in that mission, but I’ll never give up and neither should you. One thing I’ll add is that I don’t think you can blame others for failing yourself. I hope you meant that in a humorous way. No one can make you drink or swear or throw a punch, only you can do that. I think you’ve long established yourself as a firm believer in personal responsibility, right? So, no woman can make you “Goddamn”.

    I will add one more thing, when I began reading this entry in your prolific and fascinating blog, I was hoping for a bit more info on you dad. You tease me with this small tidbit of info. How could anyone end up despising you? Not possible. I may be the only one reading this blog who doesn’t know the story.

    • ofreh said

      Thank you Kate, for your encouragement.
      There are those that can serve profanity as an art and perhaps you are one of those. I am not.
      As I described, cursing, for me, has become a diversion into vernacular laziness and while it has it’s place and can have an impact, it seems I am unable to regulate it. Equally, I think abstaining can have an impact and not only do I notice the few (unheard of in Military circles) that do not but obviously my own Fathers resistance to it has made a lasting impression on me.
      Two birds with one stone. My tipping of my hat to his memory and a self assurance that I will strive to not sound like a blathering idiot when I speak.
      Again, not everyone that curses does but I feel I do and would prefer to be more inventive and resourceful with the tools that language is rife with. Needless to say…I have a greater love of the written and spoken word than yourself. Surely you’d agree.
      I am not entirely clear what you meant by “you are now swearing in a way that you perceive as being outside your personal taste”. I hope to eradicate profanity completely from my vocabulary (save, in writing, on occasion, perhaps).
      Also, I was frantic in searching for where I might have given the impression that I had blamed anyone else for ANY of my actions, spoken or otherwise, and was relieved to discover you had misspoken. I had not.
      My Girlfriend did imply that I accused her of inducing the G-bomb from me and while I admit, to my horror and shame, having done so, it was in response to her own passion in conversing (read: knock down drag out), her being a most passionate young Woman of renown temperament. I take full responsibility for that or those utterances but happily admit, as she is well aware, that she can have a great affect on my own.
      I appreciate your interest, truly, in my Family and my relationship with them and hope to, in the near future, shed some light. You’ll understand, I can only hope to be objective.

      • ofreh said

        …how would a Man resist such determination? Such eloquent disposal?
        I’d meet that Man. study and then dismiss him as a fool.

  2. K8 said


    But if we fail to rise to the occasion that is our fault, and we must not blame an external factor.

    change to

    But if we fail to rise to the occasion that is our fault, we must not blame an external factor.

  3. ofreh said

    As melodramatic as it might seem, it was no less the case. It might be that as he understood his light was swiftly dimming, he cared to not have things left unsaid. It is not a conversation I’ll soon forget. While the shock of his words have faded, the impression they made have not. C’est la vie.

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