The n-word (or, the fully unclothed truth)

The “n” in the title is deliberately lower case, to differentiate it from the very Nasty N-word that makes most of us grit our teeth.

Nevertheless, this particular lower case n-word has great power over me. The power to make me blush.

No. I am not going to write it out. I’m relying on my favorite way of dealing with words that offend my prudish sensibilities—
the euphemism.

Two of my favorites for this particular n-word are “birthday suit” and “in the altogether.”
Figured out what it is yet?
No? How about a synonym.
Never mind. I don’t like any of those either.

Here’s one of my own.
“Fully unclothed”

The first time I remember reading the n-word was maybe in 2nd grade? One of the Little House books, I think. The description of a tornado and the devastation it left hit me hard. I’ve been terrified of twisters ever since. But then. THEN. The narration described a survivor of the storm as being “n-word as a jaybird.”

Well. Yuck. That was my first reaction. I didn’t want to be caught up in a tornado and I especially didn’t want it dropping me off fully unclothed.
Hot on the heels of that gut-level prude reaction came judgement.
How could a book for kids print a word like that? I think I half expected it to incinerate before my eyes.

Cartoon birth

“Ick” and “that wasn’t nice!” are two of the natural-born prude’s natural reactions to things of the flesh. The final is embarrassment. What if someone—say God—caught me reading the n-word?

(This is a good time to take the blame for my prudishness off my parents and put it squarely where it belongs. An unknown genetic anomaly that develops freeform and randomly in a limited number of human children. [The animal kingdom appears immune. To my consternation. Many is the time I wished Rhesus monkeys were partial to pants.] If you’re worried that your offspring might be susceptible, don’t be. The prude gene is becoming increasingly extinct. My point is, my parents, although never given to swearing or vulgarity, are not responsible for my prudish nature. I was born this way.)

Maybe other prudes can handle the n-word. Prudes who don’t so closely link spoken or written words with mental images. When I hear or read the term “birthday suit,” a picture of someone crowned with icing and a candle on the head cavorting in confetti pops into my mind. The phrase ‘In the altogether’ springs into my minds eye a pleasingly plump individual, slightly pink, and tastefully blurred from the neck down. No, I don’t know why.

Cartoon Buster

But the n-word? Or any of its synonyms? When I hear or see it or its associates— say ‘nudy-rudy’ word or the homonym for “bear”—and my mind runs madly for a beach towel or nice opaque sheet to cover the vision flashing in my head.

I have never been happy with the mess Adam and Eve led us into, but I’ve always been intensely grateful that in the aftermath, God at least let us wear clothes.

 

Note- the above cartoons are from “Cartoon Cavalcade” edited by Thomas Craven and published by Consolidated Book Publishers in 1945. Which means that although the cartoons I used were created before 1919 they may not actually be in the public domain and I could be in violation of copyright.  But dug-nub-it. I worked so hard on finding appropriate—in more  ways than one—images and adding text. I’m going to live dangerously.

Birthday Suit? Or Civil Suit?

Image

Prude-approved Birthday Suit

Here’s a prude pop quiz:

What does the Tuesday Prude consider civilization’s chief threat?
A. The creeping view of clothing as obsolete
B. Escalating use of really, really bad words
C. Decreasing moral standards for behavior
D. All of the above but with one prevailing concern.

Oh, that all quizzes were so obvious!  Of course the answer is
D.
You might ask: what could concern a prude more than the looming possibility of runway models wearing little more than a blingy belt between their pouts and their platform shoes?

While A,B and C, and of course the Birthday Suit trend in fashion all give prudes the shivers, we’re noticing a deeper, more fundamental crack in the bedrock of civilization.
Civility is disappearing.
Civility is becoming as rare, as difficult to find as prudes. So little civility to be found on television, in politics, religion, the workplace, the classroom, in families, among friends and amidst strangers.
So much incivility rushing to fill the void.

Sometimes incivility is disguised with wit or sarcasm, or excused because of strongly held beliefs and passions.
Boorish, discourteous behavior is almost expected in certain realms such as the editorial page and Washington DC, but now it has gurgled up, slobbered out, and mucked over everything else. Incivility is ubiquitous.

The Tuesday Prude would like to carve out a little section of the world that, at its core, is cordial.

Most prudes hold strongly to particular beliefs on religion, politics, education, society, language, nutrition and global stewardship. But this is not the venue to share them all.

We prefer not to mock, deride, satirize or condemn those whose views don’t match ours.
Not that we believe all opinions and ideas have equal validity.
Not because we don’t believe in absolutes.

But because this blog aspires to be one hundred percent courteous, one hundred percent of the time.

You don’t need to agree with everything the Tuesday Prude propounds. But we hope you share our desire for a more civil world.

NEXT WEEK: A PEEK AT A PRUDE’S ARSENAL