Last weekend we went to visit the boy at Christopher Newport University. It was the first time for us to visit him as a family since he’d been installed in his dorm room as a college freshman. He called before our visit and asked us to bring a few things: a sewing kit (for ripped clothes and missing buttons, apparently), some jeans and his girlfriend.
So the four of us, the husband, the girl, the allergist’s daughter and I headed out on Saturday morning and descended upon his dorm. We were appropriately aghast at the disgustingness of a suite shared by four teenage boys, but it was obvious there had been some effort to clean, so we didn’t mention it.
In the dorm room hall, on a bulletin board was a list of Abreves. that is, abbreviations for the inner language of the dorm or perhaps the college or perhaps kids of that age. Who knows? Words shortened like, “obvi” for obvious and “Space” for MySpace. We stood there, all five of us, reading the list, when the girl, scanning down the list obviously much faster than the rest of us asked, “What’s a ______?”
Now, I’m not a prude by any stretch, and have uttered my share of obscene words, but not in public, not outside of the company of very close adult friends and not as a habit. But the word she said is THE WORD I WILL NOT SAY. It is, in my opinion, one of the most obscene words in the English language. She was completely innocent and followed our stunned laughter and redirecting, “Never mind!” with, “But what does it MEAN?”
I said, “My EARS, they’re BURNING,” as we steered her away from the bulletin board, down the stairs and out of the building. No mother should have to hear that word coming out of her 12-year-old daughter’s mouth.
The boy was mortified and apologized on behalf of his entire generation, his college, his dorm and his floor.
The allergist’s daughter, a worldly college kid, whisked the girl away and gave her this explanation: There are dirty words in this world, but there are LEVELS of dirty words. There’s the D word, which is bad, and then the S word which is a level worse, but THIS word is SEVERAL LEVELS worse. We do not say this word.
I’m hoping that her memory has already faded. I’m hoping that a new term does not become popular at her middle school. I’m hoping my ears stop burning and I’ll forget the whole incident.