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Archive for January, 2013

How to spell Quantity and other cuss words

24 Jan

Dear readers I’m afraid this selection may not be for the faint of heart. I may have to use a word or two that none of us use and I will have to allude to some words that some of us use. I promise to move this conversation in an educational and enlightening direction and hopefully we all can learn something about the finer points of spelling and education.

Everyone knows all the bad words. Some of us never use them and others of us use them all the time. Let’s, for simplicity sake, call all the bad words swear words. No, wait. Let’s call the curse words. Wait, I promise this is my last change. Let’s call them cuss words. There.  Isn’t that just more fun sounding?

I like to break my cussers up into four categories – regular cussers, chronic cussers, mad cussers and funny cussers. I consider myself a funny cusser and as you can see I’m barely that. I’ve written three paragraphs without even using a cuss word. I prefer not to cuss in writing. It’s not very interesting to me. Funny cussers tend to be comedians and regular people who use it for punctuation and flare. A lot of professional funny people aren’t that good at making the cuss funny. Many non-professional funny people, who try to use the cuss as funny, are not successful. But, what’s important is that they amuse themselves and at least they’re not making the mistake of going on stage and cussin’ it up.

Next, we have the regular cussers. These are people that use the basics and steer clear from the unspeakables, but can easily include some of the taboo and let’s say, richer textured words on occasion. This group is followed by the chronic cussers. These are the people that are apparently too busy lowering the world cumulative IQ to learn any new words. And, finally, the mad cussers. Generally, they are made up of regular cussers who get a euphoric rush by cussing in the heat of an argument or if something is not in their favor. This hearty bunch of cussers truly believes that they gain an advantage by using cuss words at a high volume.  Their shouting, coupled with three or four words everyone one knows to be bad is a sure way of winning an argument or just making a point.  Mad cussers are funny to me.

After the cusser categories there’s another group of words that aren’t really as riveting as the cussies, but they’re words you’d rather just not hear. And I apologize, but this is where my story finally begins.

Now, I don’t think my beautiful wife- let’s call her Cynthia- falls into any of these categories.  Unlike me, who is pure like the snow that has been driven on, Cynthia is a better person. Come to think of it though, I may have heard her cuss by mistake in the past. Nonetheless, she is a great teacher and a great mom and is the driving force in our family for all things family.

I’m generally the person who handles the weekly spelling studies with our 10 year old daughter, Lila. Lila hates doing spelling with me because I’m the equivalent to the spelling chain gang. But at the end of the week the sentence is 100% on her weekly spelling test. Still, she prefers her mom’s assistance because her mom doesn’t adhere to the chain gang mode. It’s more similar to white collar crime weekend jail with steak and orange sherbet.

Recently, I was traveling for some work I got. I called home and asked how the spelling was going. I remembered some of the words. One of the new words she had trouble with on her first time through was “quantity”. I asked Cynthia if Lila knew the word now. She said she did. She said she told Lila a trick to remember it. I love tricks to remember things. I needed to know right away. Cynthia hesitated and then proceeded. She said that she told her the “tity” part of the word was an inappropriate name for “boobs” (even though, in my view “boobs” is no good. I’m not a fan of the onomatopoeia words – see “poop” story in early blogs)

Yes. There was a pause on the phone like a paragraph break. Our daughter who thinks “stupid” is a bad word just got a gateway cussish word.  Actually, it’s not so terrible except for the fact that in my head the word “bar” always follows it. Cynthia explained that Lila gets that it’s not a word to use. So, maybe it ends up being a mother-daughter bonding moment and the kind of thing dad just stays away from. After all, it comes from a natural thing – the teat. How much more nurturing can you get, right. “Tity” is sort of cute. “Oh, look at the cute little Tity”.

Ok, it’s now funny to me. I’m sure Lila has heard words that she knows are bad and doesn’t even bother to tell us. That’s what happens right. And Cynthia’s a great mom, so no matter how this comes across with me writing it, I know that whatever she says to Lila is totally ok, no matter how much of a nervous freak of a dad I am in trying to make sure my little girl is safe from everything.

But here’s the big problem I have with this whole thing. Kind and gracious reader, I know you are also bothered. You are smart people and I value your opinion. I know from the first moment you heard that Cynthia used the word “tity” with Lila, you were as equally concerned as me. You see, even though Cynthia taught Lila how to spell the word “quantity” correctly, at the same time, she taught her to spell the word “titty” incorrectly. Everyone one knows that you don’t spell titty “tity”. What was she thinking? So now she can spell quantity, but she’s learned a new word and how to spell it incorrectly. Great.

With my wife’s exercise in spelling, I now have a better understanding of how the bad words like hell, crap, shit or ass get into the mouths of children. I used to think that kids either had chronic cusser parents or mad cusser grandparents or some connections through home to the other two cusser categories. But, now I know that kids just bring bad words to school because they’re trying to spell words like “shellac”, “scrape”, “shitake”, and “crevasse”.

Next week we’re back to the daddy spelling chain gang. And if inappropriate words need to be used as spelling aids, I’ll be dammed if I’m going to spell them incorrectly. My daughter’s spelling education is very important. Aw, shitake! Did I just spell dam wrong?


Jason Spafford