Friday, March 31, 2006

Notes From My Personal Life

Last weekend I was running an Event. I use a capital "E", because good gravy, it was huge. Tons of people. Tons of activities, tons of staff running each of the individual things.

In my estimation, it all went off amazingly well. People flowed all over the place, talking, laughing, singing, dancing - everything. Food showed up hot and on time, no one fell down a flight of stairs, I was pretty happy. I got phone calls saying how great it all was. I got email after email of congratulations. I looked forward to opening emails with the name of the event in the subject line. And then, I was brought up short. Ouch.

During the day, I was involved in a conversation with a friend. We were in a hallway, and there were all sorts of people around. At some point in the conversation, my friend swore. That's right, he used a cuss-word. A woman sitting on the bench across the hallway exclaimed, "Language! There are children present!". She looked right at me as if to get my support.

Bad move. I personally feel like people have the right to use whatever language they want. This wasn't a G-rated movie, it was just life. It was a crowded hallway at an event, and there happened to be a few little girls running around playing somewhere near us. I looked back at the woman, shrugged, and said, "It's a public place, what are you gonna do."

Not like a challenge, mind you, but as if to say, "Hey, these things happen".

Little did I know that I was talking to the Most Uptight Woman at the event. Oy. She waited 4 days - 4 days! and then, she wrote me an email. Not just to me, though, oh, no, also to her brother, who it seems is the father of one of the little girls running through the hallway, and to other officers of the club we're involved in. It ran on and on about how I shocked and offended her by not being shocked and offended by someone swearing in front of children. Perhaps I should have let her know that I don't enjoy the company of children. Think that would have helped? No, probably not.

She asked me questions that assume that I have the same kind of moral outlook that she does. She wanted to know how I'd feel if it was my child who'd heard that, and they repeated it in front of Grandma (big deal) or in church (double big deal)? What if a child asked me, "What does 'fuck' mean?"? What would I do then? As if I never had a kid ask me an embarrassing question! Kids say things you never expect them to - horrifyingly embarrassing things - all the time. Unless it's some 4-year-old stranger asking me why I'm fat (and yes, every 4 year old I meet asks me that damn question), I'm just going to try to let it go. If I can't let it go, I say something like, "sweetie, that's not the kind of question you can ask a grown-up, because it's not actually very nice, and hurts people's feelings." If a child asks me what a swear word means, I'll give them something similar, unless they're really old enough to know, and their parents are there, and cool with me telling the truth.

So I'm looking over this email, and at the fact that she's copied people on it, as if it's some sort of official government complaint, and I'm thinking bad, bad words myself. Especially when I realized that there might actually be some club rules in place about public profanity. Yeesh. This is the point where I realized I was going to have to apologize to her, in writing. And I did. I wrote her the following (and copied all the people she had copied, as well):

I would like to sincerely apologize.

I am truly sorry that what I said caused you offense.
and that's IT. There just isn't any more of me that I can give on that one. I am sorry - I'm sorry that this woman has such a big stick up her ass that she had to write a formal letter of complaint because in her opinion, I had an inappropriate reaction to someone else causing her offense.

Yes, I am sorry for her, indeed.

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