I’ve always been studying the fine art of swearing. Maybe it’s because I heard some real choice ones growing up; maybe it’s because I know their healing powers in staving off ulcers and the like, or maybe it's because in the end, there’s nothing like the power of a heartfelt swearword to make the world seem like a brighter place.
I do not like to be sworn at, though. And if I'm going to do it, prefer to do it under my breath and in the car with the windows closed as I speed off and leave some poor mope honking and gesticulating in his car.
When karma put me to work as a teacher for some irascible deed I’d done in a former life (maybe I was Caligula’s chum. Who knows?), I was only sworn at 2 ½ times. I was called a female dog twice, and the half one came from a swearing attempt that never made it out of the room and into the Counseling Office.
It came from Sergio, a boy in my sixth-grade homeroom, who always carried a retractable lead pencil (with spare lead) and whose handwriting was so pristine it should have been featured on an educational channel. Mine, on the other hand, is so bad that I’ve been waiting for someone to hang it in a museum of modern art, or send it to a psychiatrist for further discussion.
One day during homeroom, there was a note on my desk.
It escaped my attention, what with kids running around the room while I tried to maintain an appearance of calm and order in case an administrator swooped by, or someone tried activating the fire alarm.
“Miss Saunders,” said a girl near my desk, “look what Sergio wrote.”
Sure enough, there in that perfect, evenly pressured handwriting from his retractable lead pencil was a note on a strip of paper that read, “Fack Miss Saunders.”
“Aren’t you going to do anything about it?” the girl said.
“Why should I? There’s no such word as fack.”
“You’re not going to do anything?”
“No. There’s no such word as fack.”
In spite of that, I only had one kid pull an alarm in my room and never even had a fight break out. Some kids told me the personal details about their lives and one boy left a suicide note on my desk that I handed over to the counselor. It must have been the C’est la Vie school of Classroom Management that made the kids feel safe and that caused the administrators to lose sleep at night, but that's just the way it was.
Thank you, amen and over and out.