Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June 17: People's Privacy, Favorite Word, Sally Wen Mao, "Capsaicin Eclogue"

He [Ives] ended up giving them [his son and son's friends] a lecture about respecting people's privacy and writing the lady a discreet note, and although she must have known what she was doing in the first place, she kept her window curtains closed from them on.  And Robert?  Trembling, he later approached his father, as Ives sat by his drawing board, saying, "It wasn't my idea, Pop.  I swear it."

Ives catches his son, Robert, and Robert's friends spying on a neighbor girl who has a habit of walking around her bedroom nude, with her window curtains open.  Given the opportunity, a group of teenage boys will watch a naked female, even if it is ethically or morally questionable.  Ives doesn't scream or yell at them.  He makes them feel ashamed.  Shame and disappointment are powerful parental tools.

In the last few days, I have found myself in the difficult position of having to lecture my six-year-old son.  For some reason, he has suddenly developed the vocabulary of a sailor who has been at sea for about ten years.  His favorite word is "fuck," and he uses it in its many permutations:  "fuck you," "fuck off," "fucker."  Its a little disconcerting.  It's like living with a diminutive Robert De Niro.  I half expect him to look at me one night and say, "Are you talkin' to me?"

I have set up some punishment guidelines for my son.  I believe he has been hearing this language in the videos he watches on my iPad.  Therefore, on his first offense, my son will lose his iPad privileges for a day.  Second offense, he will lose his privileges for a week.  Third offense, he will no longer be allowed to watch videos on my iPad.

I told my son how much words can hurt people.  How they can sometimes get a person in a lot of trouble.  I'm not sure if anything I said actually registered in his six-year-old mind.  However, I felt it was my duty to try to make him aware of the fact that, if he says "fuck you" to the wrong person, he might get the crap beat out of him.

I'm not sure if my punishment will be a deterrent for my son.  My pastor friend used to put hot sauce on his son's tongue when he swore or said something unacceptable.  Of course, there's the old standby:  soap.  I used that technique with my daughter once.  It didn't work.  Ketchup sometimes does the trick, as both of my children detest its taste.

Right now, however, I'm just waiting.  I'm sure my son will tell his sister to "fuck off" in the next few days, and I will be forced to lecture him again and inflict punishment.  That's my job as Punisher and Chief of the household.  It's not a position I enjoy.

Sally Wen Mao has a great poem about the Trinidad Scorpion, which is a kind of chili pepper.  A really hot chili pepper.

Maybe Saint Marty needs to go to the grocery store and stock up on a few Scorpions.  The ultimate "fuck" penance.

Capsaicin Eclogue

by:  Sally Wen Mao

The Trinidad Scorpion is shaped like a wrinkled
valentine.  Its taste exudes mudslide, the hurt
of long fortnights--kettle whiplash, Bunsen flame,
red-blooded bullet.  Tongue a piece of tinder.
Driftwood mouth.  Brown tongue, yellow tongue,

miscegenation of burnouts.  Raw white, yolk drains
through gullet, burning spigot.  But the scorpion
doesn't only sting--these seeds cross borders,
travel through sense and tissue, drill into eyeballs,
stampede the remote throat.  Have courage:  swallow.

Dance in all the forest fires of the future:  Tingle--
dance!  Mix the pulp.  Snakes snap their jaws
through stomach lining.  The furniture melts
and outside, the cool evening breaks your legs.

Tag the building with your spit!  Each little devil
fits inside your hand:  Naga Vipers.  Infinity chillies.
Naga Jolokia.  Taste one million Scoville units.
This is how tongues make mistakes.  Your name
in lights, on stranger lips.  Your lips, in red myth.

Words can hurt--they can burn the shit out of your mouth, too

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