Saturday, September 14, 2013
The F Word
I think I used the dictionary to look up the F Word. I am pretty sure because I would not have asked anybody. I couldn't ask my parents because I couldn't swear. I couldn't ask my friends for the same reason, and, besides, I would look like a nerd not knowing what the word meant.
Let me add this - I don't remember my friends or classmates using profanity of any type at any time in school or any place else other than that afternoon. It just was not a part of my life in the late 1950s. Even on the two over-night camping trips I took in Boy Scouts, the other guys just did not swear. Things changed when I entered junior high school. I think it was in the eight grade other boys started cussing. Then they started to discuss their sexual exploits with girls. By my sophomore year almost every high school lunch conversation included some guy bragging about his recent conquest. I never believed any of them. That is until my senior year when Jim T. got his girlfriend pregnant. We were in band together. He wasn't the type of guy that would have talked about having sex. I was dumbfounded when I found out he was going to be a father. I didn't even think he knew anymore about sex than I did. I was wrong. At least he knew enough to get his girlfriend pregnant. They got married. She did not return to school. As far as I know she did not graduate which was an anomaly for my school. I think my class had the highest percentage of graduates in the State of Colorado that went on to college in 1965.
On Christmas Day in 1959 I got the most horrible gift twelve year old nerd could get - the talk from my dad. We had gone out to a restaurant for dinner on Christmas Eve. My big brother and his wife of less than one month happened to be in the same restaurant. She had a very visible baby bump. My mother was really upset and told my dad that pregnancy explained why my sister in law could not fit into her bridal gown. And so on Christmas day my dad took me aside, shut the door, and tried to explain the facts of life. He was probably more nervous than I was. I won't bore you with the details because you already know how pregnancies occur. My being a total nerd and his being an awful teacher made the life lesson totally horrible. I remember leaving the bedroom and going back into the living room with the look like I had done something wrong. How F'd is that?
About a year later was the very first time I heard the word "faggot". This time I was playing touch football with some neighbor guys. I probably played touch football all of five times in my life. A boy much larger and older than I was called me a faggot. I don't know why he said it. Just like the day I first heard the other F Word, I knew the word he called me was something horrible. As soon as I got home I got out the dictionary to find out what kind of a horrible thing this kid thought I was. I did not believe what I read.
The only other reference I recall in my life was when my mother would be watching Liberace on television. Every time she saw him she would say with such honest "Isn't he pretty!" The few times my dad saw Liberace, he would call call him a "Sissy!". He said the word with disdain. He was repulsed by the guy. I did not know what queers, faggots, homosexuals, or sissies did, but I did know that I was not one of them.
During the second half of my freshman year in college I made friends with a boy named David. He was a bad influence on me because he swore which caused me to start to swear. He had a girlfriend with whom he really had sex. He was the kind of guy who kissed (and whatever else) and told. When he wasn't with her, we hung out together and wrestled a lot - almost every day. My roommate, Louis, picked up on the wrestling and the way I talked about David. He said "You sound like you love him". I did not have to look that up in the dictionary. David and I were supposed to room together our sophomore year. Instead, he enlisted in the Navy. Oh, F!
Fast forward from 1966 to 2013. I swear a lot more than I should. I even sometimes let the F Word out of my mouth when talking to customers. I go "Oops!" and hope I am forgiven.
The F Word has become socially acceptable in a lot our culture. Kids in elementary schools swear like sailors. Well, some do. Those that don't do not have to use a dictionary to understand the meaning, because the F Word is said by so many people all day and in all places. It is said at school, after school, on playing fields and locker rooms. It is said by boys and girls, men and women, by pimps and by Presidents.
We hear the F Word in movies and in many television shows. If you watch BRAVO or the Food Network, MTV, FOX, or Discovery Channel, you will hear the F Word in a lot of the shows. Yes, Food Network. Chef's swear. Even women chefs. I'm no prig, but sometimes I get offended by these people who cannot control themselves. The networks bleep the F word out, but you still know exactly what was said and meant. But at least with television, I can decide not to watch a particular show or network if my sense of propriety gets too rattled.
A few weeks ago I reported on the (temporary-maybe) closing of Banana Republic. I feared the worst but others say it will reopen. I have had several buyers ask me about all of the closed shops on Duval. A couple of weeks ago I drove up and down the street a couple of times taking in all of the closed spaces. It is scary. I know some are being prepped for new tenants, but there are still a lot of empty stores that are just reminders that things are not good here.
Key West is where I live. I moved here by choice. I love this place. But I hate to walk on Duval Street. Each time I do I feel assaulted and insulted. Loud music blares from bars and drunks walk the streets with go-cups in hand. Cops do not enforce our open container law - at least not as to tourists. They certainly do not enforce the noise ordinance. Several months ago I went to the Waterfront Playhouse to watch a play. When I was walking back to my car, a young female hooker approached me and asked if I wanted to party. WTF?
I tell potential buyers that the streets of Key West are safe, but warn them that if they are going to get into trouble, it will probably be inside or outside one of the bars on lower Duval. The entire area is a blight.
Key West has become a safe haven for the homeless. Many head to the beaches to set up camp early each morning. They hog picnic tables and spaces built for tourists and locals. The new children's park at Higg's Beach is enclosed with fence and gate that warns only adults who accompany a child are permitted entry. This is to keep pedophiles and bums out.
The homeless get free medical care at our hospital and taxpayers foot the bill. This makes me more angry than just about anything.
This is not the Key West I fell in love with on my first visit, and it is not the Key West that I moved to in 1993. There is another variation on the F Word that has come to symbolize what is happening to Key West: Failure.
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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell
- Gary Thomas
- Key West, Florida, United States
- I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.