Last weekend, on our walk to Sunday night date night dinner, E & I stopped to chat with a neighbor who has some very nice plants (both edible and decorative). I'd admired from afar what they'd done with the front yard ever since they'd moved in (you put chard in newly added soil along your sidewalk? we will be friends). So I was happy to see her out watering and to introduce myself.
As you may know, I love to garden.
And this is how I made my new friend, J, who is awesome. She's the most foul-mouthed person I've encountered in a long time. She's also a dedicated gardener, hippy, bee-keeper, greenhouse maintainer, and full-time mom of 2 (5 and 7). Her spoken vernacular reminds me so much of many of my brother's friends from our hometown, which is a nice spice of variety that I rarely encounter in the bay area. She's also super opinionated and open with her views (quite often very much in opposition to the norm in the bay area), which, frankly, is a bit refreshing. I may or may not agree with her, but it's nice to be challenged to think and/or realize that others in the world see things from a different perspective.
Today, at 10:30 AM, our doorbell rang. We ignored it. I was working in my robe, trying to get enough done to justify heading out for an easy run before brunch/lunch and a much-deserved bloody mary. E was working/puttering around the interwebs in his pajamas. It was Saturday, we had no plans, and we certainly expected no visitors.
We heard voices and assumed it was a solicitor. But, after a few minutes, there was another knock. They were insistent! I opened the curtains to peer out and saw J -- Holding a seedling in her hands.
Oh! That's right. I'd told her to stop by this weekend and I'd give her some tomato seedlings.
I love that she remembered and came on over. I loved even more that she brought me a plant, too! I yelled, "Just a minute!" Threw on some real clothes and opened the door.
We proceeded to talk for at least 45 minutes about the sunflower seedling gift she'd brought (supposed to grow taller than me!), plus gardening and nature and the weather and cops and crime and her views on the law and contracts and construction and bees and praying mantises and ladybugs and greenhouses and her gift with seeds and, of course, guito and our mutual love of reptiles.
All of this was peppered with her *extremely* colorful language. Those of you who know me in the meat-world know that I can have quite a sailor's mouth. I try to moderate it around children, but often I fail. Even so, J puts me at my most unfiltered to shame. Every 3rd or 4th word out of her mouth is a hearty invective.
The funniest part of this whole exchange to me was realizing that I must have physically flinched every time she used the word "bitch". I hate that word. I am generally tolerant and unfazed by just about any type of curse words (other than racial or other minority-demeaning epithets, which she didn't use).
But "bitch" just really upsets me. In fact, I once almost left E at a party when we first started dating (and I'd driven him to the party and he had no car and we were at least 20 miles from his apartment) because he used the word "bitch" for the first time in front of me.
Perhaps it's because I was raised in a family where this word was actually used in it's technically correct sense (my father had hunting dogs, and the term "bitch in heat" is actually a medically important condition that needs to be controlled for...). Perhaps it's because every time I hear it, I think, "what's the male equivalent?" and when I can't figure it out my head explodes. Frankly, I don't know why. I just know that I viscerally hate it.
So, at the end of her visit, just before she left, she shared yet another story about her landlord, who she'd regularly referred to as "that bitch" or "such a bitch" and she said, "so I told the plumber... 'oh-no! You call that b...woman back. You make her pay you for the work you did!'"
And I realized... wow! She just self-censored. It must be very obvious that I *really* don't like that word. I'm not even sure I want to be the reason people self-censor. I'd rather have a thoughtful conversation about the term and discuss whether she wants to use it after we consider why it bothers me so much and also why it clearly doesn't bother her.
But no, we didn't get there. She made a huge linguistic effort on my behalf, so now I'm an even bigger fan of J than I already was. We share so many common interests that are relatively uncommon, *and* she paid enough attention to my reactions (that I didn't even know I was having) to modify her language.
Sometimes life gives us such great unexpected gifts. And today, I am consciously grateful.