Sunday, November 9, 2014

"Douche Bag," A Necessary Evil

By Mahlia Lindquist

Scarcely any words are taboo these days. With "WTF" being as common as "have a nice day," few are scandalized by phrases society used to consider obscene. As individuals, however, we each have particular expressions that make us squirm. 

My daughter's friend, Maya,  for example, cannot abide the word “moist.” Just the mention of a delicious moist brownie makes her gag. 

For me, it's “fiancé.”  For reasons  I cannot fathom, but which probably relate to an as of yet undiagnosed personality disorder, fiancé sounds pretentious, contrived and ridiculous all at the same time. Even when I had one, I could not bring myself to say, “I am going to dinner with my fiancé. ” 

Another problem word is “like.” It should only be used as a simile or to express affinity for a person, place or thing. Every utterance of, like, something, like this is, like, akin to nails on a chalkboard. 

I also cannot stand “wiener.” My aversion to “wiener”  is so extreme that when I was in 7th grade, I went steady with a boy at camp named Mark and broke up with him a week later upon learning that  his last name was Weiner. This, despite the fact that Mark was the cutest, sweetest boy with the bluest eyes who ever lived. To this day, I recoil when someone refers to a dachshund as a wiener dog. 

When it comes to profanity and words for intercourse, my reactions are just as irrational.  “Shit” is okay, but “poop,” “crap” and “piss” seem vulgar. “Sex” is permissible and  “fuck,” has a positively satisfying ring to it, but I blush at “making love." “Bitch” and "asshole" are practically terms of endearment, compared to the “C” word, which I can't even type without wincing. 

Douche bag used to be right up there with “C” at the top of  my list of cringe worthy words, so I was devastated when it became a part of Dylan and Zoe's everyday lexicon. My cynical teenagers, formerly known as sweet, adorable, innocent little girls, started saying things such as, “there’s this kid in my class and he is, like, a total douche bag.” 

Every time I heard "douche bag" and "like" from my offspring in the same sentence, I died a little inside and questioned where I went wrong as a parent. 

After much pleading and haranguing on my part, they agreed to stop using “like.” To my dismay, the girls dug in their heals with douche bag (or douche for short.) When I suggested alternatives, they claimed that jerk and asshole simply do not do justice to a certain type of contemptible and obnoxious male.  They needed to use douche bag in order to effectively communicate with their peers. 

In the spirit of picking my battles, I acquiesced. However, no matter how Dylan and Zoe explained it, I didn't get why douche bag was so necessary.

But then I met Frank.

It was at a party that perfectly encapsulated all that I adore about Miami. I was there with my friend Jackie. It was at a luxurious penthouse on the 32nd floor, and the guests included beautiful women in  tight dresses and handsome FBI agents in tight t-shirts. In addition to being attractive, everyone was friendly, interesting and charming.

Everyone, that is, except Frank. 

Frank and I crossed paths as I stood on the balcony admiring the glorious view. Frank was a bald, paunched, not particularly well-preserved middle-aged man. After introducing ourselves, the conversation consisted of Frank talking at me. He informed me that he is an attorney and works in finance. He also sought to enlighten me as to the depth and breadth of his knowledge and wisdom on a wide array of topics. 

Then the conversation took a turn from tedious to offensive:
Meet Frank (left)
Frank: so honey, where do you live (brushing his hand against my hip) 
Me: Coconut Grove (flinching and stepping back) 
Frank: Coconut Grove?! There’s nothing there except a bunch of college kids throwing up. 
Me: Umm, well I kinda like living there, I’ve not noticed the college kids.  
Frank: Well, that’s what’s there, you must not get out much.
At this point, Frank’s friend joins the conversation:
Frank’s friend: Nothing wrong with college kids 
Frank: Oh yeah, true, especially college girls. 
Frank’s Friend: Not too young for you? 
Frank:  No way, 22 is just right. I do quite well with them. Can't stand women anywhere near 40. 
By this point, I was no longer in the conversation, just a stunned bystander. Although I later thought of  retorts that would be so clever, scathing, and yet compassionate that Frank would change his obnoxious ways forever, nothing came to mind at the time.

There was nothing to do but walk away.

When I rejoined Jackie inside, she asked who I had been talking to. I replied, "this guy, Frank, he's a real..."

Hesitating, several words went through my head ...  asshole? jerk? bastard? None seemed to capture the essence of Frank. But then, I remembered what my ever practical children had to say about a certain class of boorish males.

Without flinching, I continued, ... "he's a real douche bag."

Jackie nodded her head knowingly. She understood exactly what I meant.

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