Dinner Table Conversation
Posted: September 10, 2010
My mother was an elementary school teacher and my father was an English major in college before he elected to enter the field of international business. As a result, the family dinner discussion during the school year was a time for a daily update about academic and social activities. By the time I was in the eighth grade, my two brothers and I were required to participate in a game that was designed to enhance our use of proper English.
Each time one of us uttered "uh", "um" or "you know", the person to the side of the offender was allowed to slightly tap the underside of the wrist with two fingers. The practice may sound a bit archaic, but nobody ever got hurt. On the other hand, if one of us were losing the game that night, it was evident the next morning.
It's been 25 years since I've been back to school. But, with two teenagers in the house, I am reminded how one's vocabulary can change for the worse while spending more time with the younger generation.
I have found myself using more swear words than normal. I won't blame my poor use of the English language on the teenage influence. In fact, sometimes I think my use of cuss words is somehow part of my need to relate to the high school junior and freshman.
So, during a family meal this past holiday weekend, I decided to institute a new "no curse word " initiative whereby each time someone swears around another member of the household, he/she must contribute a quarter to the "no curse" fund.
It was the most boring dinner table conversation I have experienced in months.
Consequently, there are only about three or four quarters in the "no curse" jar after the first four days of the contest. I'm guessing that the total will increase exponentially over the course of the next few weeks, but I could be wrong.
I am hopeful that my constant griping about the poor use of the English language will teach the children that this crappy game can actually be pretty darn beneficial. Heck, maybe the family dinner conversation will, uh, actually include more intelligent discussion. You know?
REMINDER: This coming Tuesday, Sept. 14th, is primary day in the State of Wisconsin. I encourage all to get out and vote. One's criticism of government does not hold much weight if he/she does not bother to take the time to fill out a ballot.