by Charles W. Dowdy
My wife bought our two oldest children their own remote controlled, electronic whoopee cushions this past Valentine's Day. What does a crude bodily function have to do with Valentine's Day? Is this a sign my wife is down on our relationship? Is she hoping that by arming our children with these terrible devices she might turn away her amorous husband?
Whatever her intentions, these things are really bringing on the romance. Our home sounds like a combination Saturday morning frat house and dairy barn. If there is any humor to be found in the use of a whoopee cushion, and some of us wonder what that could be, it would be mainly as a novelty item, which to me means something used with some discretion.
My children play their whoopee cushions like electric guitars. You ask them a question and you get a whoopee cushion response. They eat with the whoopee cushion. They march though the house to it. Instead of hiding the whoopee end of it under a couch or in a shoe they simply carry it around like a gastric boom box.
Perhaps what's even more disconcerting is that something about the whoopee cushions doesn't sound right. It's rushed. Forced. Maybe it has a Far East timbre to it. Like it needs to relax and let things happen naturally. Like an American would.
I decided to check, and sure enough, the electronic whoopee cushions were made in China. We are now outsourcing our whoopee cushions? Do you honestly expect me to believe there is anyone in the world more qualified than an American to make a whoopee cushion?
My first memory of this bodily function as a notable event was when a great aunt let one fly while we were sitting around the Thanksgiving Day table. Then she held her hand to her mouth, like perhaps it had come from there, and said, "Excuse me, I just passed a little gas." At which point an uncle yelled, "No, I said, 'Pass the dressing'."
Try handling that with any measure of couth as a seven year old.
The same word my six-year-old Scottish nephew uses everyday. He used it at his school Valentine's party that I just attended. Just busted right out and started talking about it. Of course no one said anything because they were not exactly sure what he was saying. See, my nephews have the advantage of delivering their crude and curse words with a Scottish brogue. In this case it almost sounded as if he were saying "fought." And given our foreign policy lately, what person in their right mind would discipline a child for having an aggressive vocabulary?
Besides, how do you get on to a child that is cursing improperly? Do you want to correct the child and tell him the pronunciation is wrong so when you get out of earshot he can actually curse like an American sailor instead of a British one?
I know one thing. Children are like little sponges. When they pick up on some questionable language they quickly spread it among their peers. Of course, there is always a telltale clue to the word's origination amongst our young children. My sister tries to tell me they all learn these words and share them with each other. That they are all guilty of adding something to the verbal pot. But if all of the children are bringing questionable language into the neighborhood vocabulary, then why does it sound like my children are cursing in Scottish?
Of course, when it comes to questionable language, my sister is pretty safe for now as my children seem to be talking exclusively through their outsourced Chinese whoopee cushions.
Charles Dowdy is the father of four and the husband of one. He's a freelance columnist for several Mississippi newspapers. Editors may contact him at email@example.com.
Charles Dowdy's web site is not to be missed! He has to be one of the funniest, most irreverent writers in the South . . . or anywhere. Go see!
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