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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Bad Word.

Over a recent dinner, my friend Tracie of San Francisco (soon to be South Carolina - whooooo!) introduced me to the concept of the Bad Word. According to her, each of her friends is allowed to have one - a word they despise. A word they find so vile it makes them throw up in their mouths a little every time they hear it. Anyone who knows your Bad Word must avoid using it around you at all costs. In return, you remember and avoid using theirs. Bad Words vary widely. Our mutual friend Mariah's is "scarf," as in "She scarfed down those bagels like there was no tomorrow." Tracie's is too vulgar to share, but let it suffice to say I will never use it.

I had trouble choosing my Bad Word, because I am picky and easily irritated. At first, I thought of "panties." I hate that word; I gagged typing it. Just after college, I worked as a bank teller for the health insurance and part-time underwear salesgirl for the store discount. I worked really hard selling underpants, because I wanted to keep that discount (it also applied at the attached clothing store) and I wanted to be a manager. Though I had no desire to be a career underwear store manager, I had a huge desire to avoid the task I hated most.

The store where I worked always had a special, usually something involving underpants. One unlucky employee had to (wo)man the door, greeting each customer with a big smile and the words,

"Hi! Welcome to C--! We have a special today! Five pairs of panties for twenty dollars! Let me know if there's anything I can help you with today!"

My blood pressure rose every time I had to say those words. And those words had to be spoken, because the store was owned by a big corporation, so you never knew which customer might be a secret shopper hired to inform the higher-ups of any deviation from corporate policy. There were only two ways to elude the hated task - become a manager or quit. Thanks to the aforementioned store discount, my bosses and the people I worked with, I liked the job, so quitting was out. Desperate to avoid the p-word, I applied myself and made it known that I was a college graduate and really interested in underwear store managing. When the first management position came open, I campaigned vigorously, more vigorously than any presidential candidate. I got the job, which included an even bigger store discount and the best health plan I've ever known*, and promptly delegated the p-word to whatever hapless employee was available. I stayed as far back in the store as possible, hoping to avoid hearing it. I campaigned for more bra specials.

So, I was tempted to choose the p-word as my Bad Word, but you're only allowed one and in my current capacity as a mother of three boys, the p-word really doesn't come up much. There's another word I hate. I hate the sound of it and, I'm sorry to say, don't really like people who use it or the way they pronounce it. Tout. Blech.

I remember the moment when I realized how much I despised that word. I was in a playgroup during a time when the big thing among hippy moms was cottage-industry cloth diapers. All over the internet, from Etsy to eBay, stay-at-home moms with sewing machines peddled their own special cloth diapers, with annoying names like "Happy Hineys" and "Boo-Boo Bum-Bums." They had names that were embarrassing to utter, which is probably why they were only available on the internet, where no words are spoken aloud. We were sitting around at playgroup and the discussion turned to cloth diapers. Incidentally, this was about the time I became a playgroup drop-out; I preferred talking about sex.

One of the moms, gushing over some diaper cover or another - maybe it was "Apple A**es" - uttered the following:

"They are touted as...blah blah blah..."

I couldn't even hear the rest of the sentence. The way she pronounced the word, with an actual "t" sound in the middle rather than the "d" most of us southerners favor, was vile, as was her pretentious refusal to use a contraction and the fact she was discussing the reputation of something meant to contain crap like it was art. It all made me sick. I'm pretty sure I left and went straight to the Hardee's drive-thru for a Thickburger, never to return**.

Ergo, my word is "tout" and all its derivatives. If you read this and care about me at all, you will never utter that word in my presence. My good friends don't use the word anyway. If they were the sort of people who did, we probably wouldn't be friends. Although I will never, ever use that word on this blog again, unless I really need to mock someone, if I do have to use it, it will appear thusly: t**t. Because it is that bad.

Feel free to share your own Bad Word in the comments section. I'll do my best, out of simple human decency, to avoid it, because I like you!

Namasté, y'all!

* The health plan, which cost a mere $5 per pay period, made everything more or less free. I don't even think I had a co-pay. Major props to the Limited Corporation for their integrity. Major props. That plan, however, spoiled me and I've been disappointed in every one I've had since.

** By the way, I think I could still qualify for my Hippy Parent card. I use cloth diapers and do a few other things that are hippy-ish in nature. I just don't want to talk about it. Because it's boring.


Lizzie said...

"Beefed up," as in funding, military forces, building security and anything else you may think could be beefed up.

Got other words but do not want to even utter them, especially if Mom is reading this.

Anonymous said...


Libby said...

I can't even type the word I hate the most, so I'll just say "cluster" and "plug"--dammit that's 2, oh well.

maryanne said...

"to boot" - what is wrong with trusty standbys such as "too" or "also"?

Jane Clarke said...

moist is mine too, both accompanied by towelette and solo. Yuck.

Anonymous said...

"Tasked." And any other noun used as a verb.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I don't know if I have one. Maybe it's my meek nature. My daughter however, (I didn't ask her, I already know) hates both panties and moist...with a passion!

Lizzie said...


Katea said...

I also hate moist, but my real word is inappropriate for the blog.
My friend has a theory that the hatred of the word moist is hereditary - i.e. if your mom hated it, you do too.

Unknown said...

Woo hoo!