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.

To every decoration, there is a season

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I knew I should have been taking more vitamins. Practicing those limber-up moves and establishing regular sleep habits. Repeating positive thoughts at regular intervals to myself.
Because the Big Day is tomorrow. March 1. The day that will require every bit of energy and organization and perseverance.
It is the day the winter decorations come down.

People, I have a lot of winter decorations. These are not to be confused with the Christmas decorations that come down January 2. After ditching everything attendant on that season, I perform a hasty cleanse and pull out the Winter Box.
Down with the Christmas tree, up with the Winter trees. Away with reds and greens and golds, in with silvers and whites. Angels are replaced with snowmen. So. Many. Snowmen. Poinsettias make way for greens and frosty pinecones.

 

For almost two months I enjoy the cozy season and my cozy decorations. Then, the last week of February, a strange restlessness sets in. The snow might still be up to our windowsills, the temps might still hover around freeze-your-nose-off, but I’m beginning to cast glances of disfavor at the snow globes, the ice fishing moose, the ice skating American Girl outfits.
That’s when I know. It’s time to strip my shelves and walls and tables of all things winter. The St. Patrick’s Day decorations, though paltry in number, will come out. The green reminds me that spring will come. In spite of the aforementioned sill-high snow.

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But before the greens and the shamrocks can claim their rightful places, hundreds of winter things must come down. Did I mention that a family of four could easily live in the Winter Box?
Tomorrow, March 1, you’ll find me chugging the coffee and repeating positive phrases and stopping for deep, cleansing breaths. At the end of the day nary a snowflake will be seen. Everything winter will be packed away, waiting, (Lord willing) to be greeted with shouts of approbation and great affection on January 2, 2020.

Version 2

Ode to a Germ

Two weeks ago, I WAS SO SICK. Every possible symptom of the flu attacked me, from the tips of my hair follicles to the ends of my toes, and every major and minor organ between. I was so, so sick that I couldn’t talk about how sick I was when I was sick, and now that I’m better I fight the urge to tell family, friends, casual acquaintances and our mail carrier about every symptom. In detail.

When I was sick I was too sick to really worry about how sick I was but now that I’m better I’m worried when a little grandson is down with fever and chills. This poem is for you, sweetheart. Get better soon and we’ll swap symptom stories.

 

THE GERM

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

Ogden Nash

 

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Ode to my Valentine

I found this poem…somewhere…when my husband and I were engaged. (Not on the internet/Pinterest/a meme—how did we stumble on things back in those prehistoric times?)

I wrote it out and gave it to him and I think he got a kick out of it. Hope you do too!

 

All Because You Kissed Me Goodnight

I climbed up the door
And opened the stairs
Said my pajamas
And put on my prayers
Then I turned off the bed
And crawled into the light
All because you kissed me goodnight.

The next morning I felt normal again
So I picked up the eggs
And toasted the phone
Fed the dog papers
And threw dad a bone

Then came midnight
And the sun was still shining
So I hopped on the door
And opened my bed
Switched on my book
And read the light
All because you kissed me goodnight.

Author Unknown

 

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Some salt with that sentence, please?

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Some of us have learned how indigestible our words can be when we have to eat them.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term “eating your words,” here’s what happens.
We state an opinion or “fact.”
We learn the stated opinion wasn’t based fully on facts.
We learn our facts were not correct.
The subsequent admission of our error is eloquently called “eating our words.”

Seldom do those words taste as good coming back in as they did going out.
At best they are bitter, at the worst they burn all the way down.

If you were born in the pre-millennial days, you often could dine on those unpalatable words almost in private. No matter how big a mouth you had, of necessity, only a few people heard you.

Now, when we blab an opinion, when we share a link on social media, our platform is as big as our friend group. Bigger, if people share our opinion or link.
If that opinion turns out to be built on lies, if the story we share turns out to be less than honest,
and we learn the truth—what do we do?

Of course we could just move on to the next story and pretend we never said anything wrong. And our faulty opinions and false stories just pile up and rot and pollute and ultimately spread a malaise that makes everyone sick.

But we are bigger than that, aren’t we? (Probably because we’ve been eating our words for decades now.)

Of course you and I will admit that we didn’t take everything into account when we stated a heartfelt opinion. Or course we’ll confess that maybe we shared a link to a story before verifying it was factual.

We’re just that kind of people.

We’ve also learned the wisdom of that Scripture verse that says “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
(Colossians 4:6)

No matter how careful we are in choosing our words and opinions and stories to share, we will mess up.
So, we season everything that comes out of our mouth or social media sites with salt. Then, when necessary, we take a deep breath and eat the misspoken, mistaken words.

Himalayan pink or Morton’s finest, specialty blends or generic seasoning, I recommend we choose our words’ seasoning with care. Because sooner or later we will have to eat them.

A Song of Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t mix. Here is how I know: I’ll turn off the T.V. at the end of a Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movie, my eyes filled to the brim with red and green and glitter—all the colors of Christmas. I turn to my living room. Filled with orange and gold and brown and all the decorations of Thanksgiving. And everything tilts a little and my stomach gets queasy and I need to shut my eyes and allow them to adjust. Not a smidgen of Thanksgiving can be left in my house before the holly and ivy and other million billion things get put up. And THAT does not happen till after every bit of Thanksgiving dinner is digested.

But oh boy. What a great holiday Thanksgiving is. Worth celebrating every single day of November. At least till Black Friday.  After all, there is so much to love. Here are a few loved by me—

Songs: “Let All Things Now Living (a Song of Thanksgiving) “For the Beauty of the Earth.” (Folliot S. Pierpoint ) Oodles more, but I am too lazy to look up the composers.

Books: These three, among others. I have never bonded with an adult book on Thanksgiving.IMG_2997

The one in the center is the newest favorite with my grandchildren and I. SO FUN TO READ!

Vintage decorations:  These are my maiden decorations, purchased many years before I married and I was a fledgling Thanksgiving devotee.IMG_2996

Favorite show/movie: Movie? The Mouse and the Mayflower. Show? WKRP in Cincinnati‘s episode “The Turkey Drop.” As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

Favorite Food: Apple Pie. MY apple pie. Oh, and my Tollhouse Pie. Then there is my sister’s pecan pie. My daughter-in-law’s cranberry sauce, my other daughter-in-law’s sweet potato casserole…that is more than one favorite, you say? Hey, I didn’t make the rules.

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Old tradition: The hayride after supper to jostle all our food into a corner of our stomachs so we can come back and eat the above-mentioned pies.

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New tradition: Spoons. Our crew plays for blood. And sometimes marriages are stressed. All in good, clean fun. (We hide the small children and tiny adults when the game begins.)

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At Thanksgiving, I’m surrounded by blessings. Family, friends, food, fun. So many good things begin with “F.” Faith too. The top of the list, the beginning and the end, the gift of God to grab hold of the grace so freely given.

I’m thankful for you, too, my friends. There are problems galore with social media and the blog world. But so far, none of them have showed up here. What a classy group you are. Happy Thanks Giving—even if you are not an American. You are a blessing.

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I is Understood

This post is from a few years ago. Long enough that I forgot most of what I wrote in it, so I’m hoping you did too, and it will all be new and fresh. AND I got really frisky and used hashtags in this updated version.

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Prudes are often self-appointed grammar nannies, making sure apostrophes are tucked in the cozy correct spots and participles don’t dangle dangerously.  The Tuesday Prude, however, hated diagramming sentences in school. Maybe it looked too much like math. When it was time to explore the beautiful world of grammar with our homeschooled prudlings, we choose a curriculum that didn’t technically require diagramming.

It was a good program and they learned enough not to embarrass me. The closest they came to diagramming was the requirement to pull prepositional phrases from each sentence and label the leftovers:  subject, verb, direct object etc.
Occasionally an imperative sentence reared its imperious head:
Shut the door.
Stop strangling your brother.
Rescue that dangling participle.

Where is the subject in the above sentences? We learned that the imperative is addressed to “you.”
You” shut the door.
You” stop strangling your brother.
You”. . .
You get the picture.
Their job was to label the subject as “You is understood.”
It was sort of fun to say. Try it. “You is understood.”

The fun didn’t stop when my boys finished school. There is a new way to use this rule.

It keeps the world from knowing just how inflated an ego I (aka The Tuesday Prude) am prone to.

One of the first rules a good writer learns: avoid beginning every sentence with the word
I.
Even in a blog, even on a Facebook status, or personal communication—start too many sentences with ‘I’ and readers get the notion that the writer is self-centered.

My readers would be right.

Ever hear the phrase “She thinks the world revolves around her?” Try as I will to convince myself that the world actually revolves on a tipsy axis, my id, ego and superego all argue the opposite. In the world of the self-centered, I am firmly in the middle.

Narcissism, however, wears thin. As an author, I don’t want to alienate readers. They want to believe I am interested in them, and I am. Truly I am. But I can’t seem to evict this nasty little core of me that wants to make sure no one bumps me from Centerville. Because no matter how much evidence to the contrary, deep down in my self-fascinated self is the idea that everyone else should be captivated with ME.

So I develop strategies to hide my absorption in spellbinding me. Look back and you’ll discover the sneaky ways I wrote an entire post about ME without once starting a sentence with ‘I’.
Sometimes, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to keep the
I-word anywhere but the engine part of a sentence. Unless one wants to totally convolute the syntax till the reader has to stand on his/her head to make sense of it.

That is where my ‘You is understood’ training comes in handy, with one crucial change.

Instead of writing
I am trying to avoid starting sentences with ‘I’”,
I drop the ‘I’ at the beginning of the sentence and it becomes a friendly, informal
‘Trying to avoid…”

The ‘I’ is understood but it sits modestly out of the reader’s line of vision, understanding that I am really the subject of me but not trumpeting the fact.

It gets easier:
“Loving this organic casserole that just came out of the oven!”
“Going to buy a new pair of jeans in a smaller size!”
“Just enjoying the cutest grandbabies on earth!”

All the above are just underhanded ways of saying:
#allaboutme  #mememememe #wanttoknowmoreaboutme #sureyoudo #stilldidntstartasentencewithI

Empaths: We feel your pain. Here, have some more.

Empath is psycho-shorthand for ‘someone who is empathetic.’

Empaths can put themselves in another’s shoes and experience their emotions.

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You want an empath around when you need more than someone to pat you on the shoulder when you are miserable and say “Poor, pitiful you.” That is a sympathizer. They serve a purpose. When you wallow in your particular wretchedness, the sympathetic person will not get overly-involved. The sympathizer will just feel sorry for you.
Then there’s the role of an aloof. This detached person sees your gloom, and wonders how you got there. And possibly is glad he isn’t in there with you.
Unlike the jurist—who will critique, censure, and castigate you from the edge of the pit of despair.

 
The sympathizer will offer you a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes we need sympathy. And sometimes we need cool appraisal from the aloof, to give us a sense of perspective on our hurt. There could conceivably be times when we  need the jurist, who tells us exactly what we did wrong (if anything) that got us into the pit, and MAYBE even instructs us how to get out.

 
But the empath will mourn with you when you mourn. The empath’s cheeks will burn when you are humiliated, and the empath’s heart will beat faster when you are afraid.
The empath will climb right into the ooze next to you and sob along.

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I could always, from the time I learned to read, put myself into a character’s shoes. Shoes? No, I climbed into the character’s skin and walked around in it. If I were a more open child and had shared these tendencies with my parents, they might have been able to act as aloof, or even a jurists, and convince me that too much empathy is too much. By the time I was about seven the damage was complete. There was no going back.

 
That year, our family stood on the sidewalk in our little town, cheering as a parade went by. I think candy was thrown. (I wouldn’t have cheered as much otherwise.) When I heard jeers of some rascally-types up the street, I raised my eyes from the Bazooka Bubble Gum piece at my feet, and met those of a truck driver. He and his truck had somehow gotten caught up in the middle of the parade. All thoughts of that hard brick of pink adhesive wrapped in an incomprehensible comic disappeared. My heart and soul flew into the truck with the man. I was experiencing the humiliation from the jeering children. I was aching for the moment I could break free from the parade, park my truck on a private, tree-lined street, and salve my wounded spirit. The rest of the parade was spoiled for me. I was one with that miserable driver.

 
It wasn’t till decades later—I’m embarrassed to tell you how many—that I could call up that painfully vivid memory. And realize with a shock that the truck driver wasn’t humiliated or scarred or crushed in spirit. He was bored and had a route to finish and just wanted to get out of that treacle-slow speed of a small town parade.

 
And that is the problem with empaths. We might feel your pain. But some of us (I hope I am not the only -nth degree empath out there) will add more pain to what we think you are feeling. We might project, on you, our own perceptions of what we think your emotional state to be. We may assume you are reacting as we think we would. A seven-year-old should never suppose that she is simpatico with a middle-aged truck driver.

 
Us -nth degree empaths might be feeling your assumed pain long after you have moved on to a place of peace, contentment and even happiness. We may picture you in the Slough of Despond when you are actually only splashing your way through a mud puddle, regretting nothing but your dirty hem. We can be found weeping with you even while your joy is coming in the morning.

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The life of an empath is a tough one. Our emotions are constantly roiling around inside, looking for more tribulation and anguish to weep over. Sometimes we can be the most frustrating of friends.

 

 
But when you are in that pit, and the jurist has pronounced judgement and walked on, the aloof is peering over the edge wondering how you got there and how you’ll get out, and the shoulder of the sympathizer is too far to reach, wait for the splash. The empath has jumped in with you, and might even stay there after you’ve climbed out.

Version 3

#youtoo

#youtoo

You must have heard of this one. It’s more extensive than the #metoo campaign. #youtoo transcends race and gender and political parties. It’s in history books and news, both fake and not-quite-fake. It positively blankets social media. We don’t necessarily brag about it, but goodness gracious. We sure do practice it.

We’ve been adherents since we were children. The first time I remember engaging in #youtoo, I was about 4.
That rude gesture—the sticking out of the tongue, sometimes accompanied by a “NYA-nya” sound (difficult to articulate perfectly while the lips were occupied with keeping the tongue extended)—was strictly forbidden.
In case you got lost in the syntax of the previous sentence—I was ordered to NEVER stick out my tongue.

Then my cousin came to visit. My older, cleverer, mischievous cousin. She drove me to distraction one day by being older and cleverer. And more mischievous. So I chased her around the house.
She beat me to her car, leapt in, locked the doors and stuck out her tongue.
AhHA! An unwritten rule in my code of conduct was that when an older cousin disobeyed any commandment, all bets were off.
The command was null and void.

I stuck my tongue out at her.
Whereupon she promptly shouted with glee. I heard her through the closed window and knew that somehow something had gone wrong.

“I’m telling! You stuck out your tongue!”

I couldn’t deny it. But there was that null-and-void addendum.
“You did too! You stuck yours out first!”

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“No I didn’t! I pulled my bottom lip down and stuck it on the window!” She demonstrated. It did sort of resemble a stuck-out tongue. She was fairly dancing with delight as she exited the car to head for the nearest authority figure.

Cousin could have been pulling my leg. It still is a leg undeniably easy to pull. But all I remember was the dread knowledge that now I was in for it. How to explain YOU TOO to the first authority figure on the scene?
YOU TOO=any infraction of any rule is sanctioned when someone else of equal or greater stature does the infraction also. Try explaining that with a 4 year old’s vocabulary.

4 year olds still practice YOU TOO. So do 40 year old politicians and 400 year old nations.
We may not say harsh words in the course of an argument. Unless someone else says them.
We cheat on income tax because everyone else does.
We don’t declare war. Unless someone else does. Or at least does something warlike.
“You started it!”

#youtoo has always been around. Look at Adam and Eve, for goodness sake.

Instead of comparing our own rule-breaking, our own infractions of codes, our own sin, against the righteousness of God, we compare to others. If they are doing it too, we might not be any better than them, but at least we are no worse.

Dear Lord. We are sowing the wind with our devilry and reaping the whirlwind of compounded evil. All because of “You too!”

“Conservatives, you are cruel to immigrants.”
“But liberals, we have proof that your politicians are too.”

“Democrats, you support killing innocent children. Look at abortion.”
“Republicans, you support killing innocent children. Look at your illegal wars.”

“Women, you are demanding rights based solely on your gender.”
“Give us a break, men! You think you don’t do the same thing?”

Europe accuses the U.S. of discriminatory practices against minorities and the U.S. can point to a thousand years of mistreatment against the Romani people.
The United States North snips at the United States South about various procedures and policies and prejudices and the South, with good cause, can point out plenty of examples where the North does the same thing, just dressed up differently.

And nobody changes and nothing gets better because as long as someone of equal or greater stature is doing something similar, we don’t have to quit.

The world points at Christians for hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness and ignorance and Christians point back and—
Whoa. Wait a minute. This is where it has to stop.
Christians, of all people, are the ones who cannot point the finger and say “YOU TOO!”
The only standard to compare ourselves with is the one our God has set for us.
When someone else breaks a rule, that rule isn’t null and void for us.

We’re different, my brothers and sisters.
We can’t use anyone else’s sins to justify our own.
Instead, let’s take a giant step back from #youtoo.
Maybe, at least in the household of faith, it will go the way of #Jeb!2016 or #travelingpantsuit.