Cussing was never acceptable in our home. I’ve been whipped for most of the cuss words that I’ve said. That’s not to say that we didn’t hear any cussing living in our community. Between hanging out with Bargain Town, riding the school bus, and working with Pop, we got our Hollywood prescribed daily dose of obscenities even without a television. Bargain Town cussed at least twice every sentence, and I haven’t met many grown men that could out cuss some of the kids on my school bus, and I’ve worked on construction sites. Pop only cussed when he was angry, excepted when he accused us of not working fast enough, or “asslin'” around, which if it were a word it would probably be a cussword. His cuss words sounded like they tasted bad in his mouth.
There was a season in my life when it seems like we went camping every other weekend. Many times it was an impulse decision. On good days we’d plan ahead and have at least twenty minutes of daylight to set up the tent. But most of the time we planned a camping trip with just enough time to get to the store before it closed at 9:00pm. Once you start planning ahead to camp, you realize how miserable and tedious camping can be and you’ll talk yourself out of it.
Sometimes we, Zach and I, camped with our cousin Anthony. Anthony was about eight years older than me. He usually had a big mangy dog and an even mangier friend that would tag along on our camping expeditions. Without adult supervision, teenagers that cuss tend to use foul language a bit more freely. Anthony was a proficient cusser even around adults, so expletives abounded on the camping trips that he attended. If another cusser was present, usually in the person of the mangy friend, it was a contest to see who could out do the other. The contest would last into the wee hours of the morning.
It was on one of the nights that Anthony, the mangy dog, and the mangy friend, “Swamp Rat”, were camping with us that I had crawled into the tent to go to sleep. I laid there for a long time in the twilight of wakefulness, listening to the cussers compete. When finally the contest was waning and the older boys crawled into the tent, Anthony’s huge dog lay down on my feet and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning to Anthony asking, “Did that dog $#!+ in here?” The dog had broke wind and it smelled like someone had bombed the paper mill. In my hazy half sleep, realizing that the dog was sleeping on my legs now, I said angrily, “He better not have $#!+ on me!”
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Although not a cusser myself, I had been around it all night and in a dazed moment I participated. Anthony, who still knew what he was doing was wrong, was disappointed in me. Perhaps he just let on like he was just to torment me. Either way he made me go out in the woods and repent. I wasn’t mad at him though, I was planning to do that anyway.