I just started at a jovial sort of community band, funded by a local university. I had been having plenty of fun, and though I was busy trying to recruit other but better trombone players for it, I had run into little success. This week, the two guys I had recruited flaked out.

In a jovial, faux-exasperated tone of voice, our director asked me where the two of them were. In a jovial, faux-exasperated tone of voice, I answered.

Hell if I know.

Half of the band gasped. Our director sent me an amused but officially disapproving glare. The community-made half of our band laughed upon recognizing either reaction.

I was as shocked at that shock as half of the band was with my language. I come from bands where instructors will cuss out a band if they feel the band would be better motivated by doing so, and that’s the least of my stories.

One director, upon hearing cacophony where there should be ordered dissonance in stacked seconds, said what he heard sounded like an abortion looks.

Saying “hell” is nothing.

More ironically, I consciously don’t cuss — a habit I most definitely did not pick up from my family, and at the same time one I most definitely picked up because of them. My words don’t get saltier than the silly-sounding “douchenozzle,” and that’s just about the only word I take pains not to say around schoolkids.

Yet I made some college freshman blush because I used language I’ve heard on the playground — the elementary school playground — and I don’t think it’s because she’s a flute player. Either way, I don’t think I’ll ever be in her good graces.

Something tells me I would have spared some nerves if only I had remembered that our sponsoring university was founded in 1944. By Mennonites. Freakin’ Mennonites.

I can say freakin’, right?


  1. Ima Peccable

    You continue to make me laugh…keep writing and don’t worry about those fussbudgets!

  2. I’m glad, I plan to, and I won’t.

    I love getting comments. I might marry them.

  3. F*** that S***.

    That’s my favorite phrase. And it’s quite salty.

  4. Sounds like something my family would say.

    My favorite word used to be frickendangit, a self-creation — I’ve always been the inventive type — that annoyed my dad and frustrated my sister beyond my wildest dreams.

  5. Tim

    When I taught middle school students with behavior problems, this one kid would tense up (Beavis style) and yell out, “FOOOOGER!” when mad. He said it so much, I inadvertantly borrowed it. Used it often for about five years. Still use it now and again.

  6. Sounds like a fine addition to our list.

    When in doubt, and when in the company of children, just use words they don’t know if you don’t want to make them up.

    Defenestrate!
    Obsequious!
    Vanilla Ice!

    You get the idea.

  1. 1 No Unemployment For Me « Off the Tenure Track

    […] play in the band at that same local Christian college. I also don’t know if the future vice principal in […]




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