THE words hadn’t left my mouth but one nano second when dad leaped up and hit me. He would have knocked me clearly to China but two chairs and the sink got in the way. While my eyes were reviewing the situation my mother jumped into the fracas and my siblings bounded into the room anxious to see me receive my just desserts.
“Where the hell did you learn to talk that way?” he roared. His words had resonance as he never swore nor generally clocked me while sitting at the table. All the eyes of the family were upon me, their minds spinning so loudly I could hear their cerebral windings and ticking.
I sat up and tried to remain as casual as possible, as if I had total rationale. “The birds taught me those words, good eh?”
“But,” he started screaming again like a mad man: “you mean you walk around outside and those tiny brown sparrows fly up to you and give you cuss words to say?” Now that was stupid, I had never heard sparrows chirp let alone add to my growing vocabulary. “No dad, not those birds, the pretty ones, the colourful ones. The ones with the beautiful feathers at the zoo.”
Now that confused him even more, and suspecting I was speaking in ghost tongues his frenzied eyes darted about looking for the stray baseball bat to clear up the confusion. Just then, my mother spoke and saved me. “Now Vic, I read about that in the paper and it did happen.” Dad just stood there with his mouth agape. All my siblings were grimacing and disappointed not to witness me getting knocked to Timbuktu.
Pops refused to sit back down and was still looking for that instrument of death to punish me further. Then mother started speaking: “Remember that horrific blizzard we had in early December that closed all the roads and shut the schools? Well, in the zoo they had no warming facilities to keep the exotic birds warm.
Finally it was decided to store them all in the boiler room of the heating plant, which apparently was the warmest place in the complex. Problem solved for the birds staying alive, but apparently no one took under consideration that that very place is where all the workers also ate their lunches.
It was warm and away from onlooking administrative eyes. So, when the birds started mimicking the eating habits of the men, those very same workers got their revenge by teaching the birds, all of their common language and swear words. The last I heard was that the aviary was still closed. He must have gotten in there some way.”
Her ‘get out of jail’ oration saved me and I bolted for the great outdoors before cross examination.
So, when it is bitterly cold again, look me up. I am a safe haven of linguistic debilitation. You can blaspheme all you want. Hell, I don’t give a damn.