I can't even remember how George Carlin came up the other day. Then again, I guess it really doesn't matter. The point is, I've had Carlin on my mind.
My early memories of George Carlin
George Carlin will forever remind me of childhood. My dad started his career in radio, and he had a station copy of Occupation Foole at home. I clearly remember, "Not for play," being written in thick black marker next to some of the routines.
I can't even remember when I first heard the full album, but I know I had an appreciation for him early on. At first, it was simply for his silly faces and poses on the album cover.
The naughty seven words
As I got older, I respected the fact that my dad had an album that he enjoyed that he hadn't been allowed to play at a job.
As an adult, I remember borrowing our friend Bret's Class Clown (on cassette!) for a road trip. Where George and I were going, I can't remember. But I do remember listening to Carlin, and memorizing his delivery of the infamous seven words. When I was able to deliver them just as quickly as Carlin did, I was proud.
Parenthood and swearing
Now as a parent, swearing is weird territory for me. I'm not supposed to do it, but sometimes I can't help myself. I'm getting better at altering what I'm saying. "Mother of pearl" has become a favourite.
When I was growing up, swearing was the signal that the person using the word(s) was really angry about something. And it served as a warning, or as a message to those of us around that person.
Some people feel swearing is reserved for those lacking the smarts to say anything intelligent.
I think over his career in comedy, Carlin really put that argument to rest. Many of his routines riffed on serious topics - religion, drugs, abortion, classism - but injected comedy to catch and keep our attention.
Perhaps his delivery wasn't your cup of tea (and if so, I don't want any of what you're drinking, thank you very much) but he was able to form an informed, intelligent argument, swearing and all.
Sometimes folks, swearing gets the point across.
Now don't go thinking I'm swearing up a storm. I'm not hoping for my child to call another child a mother-fucker in the playground. But I don't think it will damage him to hear a naughty word from time to time.