I first I didn't really notice. Then I heard it again.
I stopped where I was working in my back yard and looked up.
"My gosh. I almost got it."
Standing on the roof of the house next door was a neighbor boy of about 12 years. He was shooting baskets with his cousins. They were feeding him the ball and he was trying to shoot over the top of a grapefruit tree into a free standing hoop some 30 feet away.
"My gosh, I almost had it."
It was typical childhood play except for one big difference -- he shot four times, missed four times and did not curse four times.
I have become so used to hearing gutter talk from the mouths of kids as young as five in recent years that hearing a kid not curse is starting to become the exception.
Not all kids cuss like sailors openly in public. But there are enough that it is coming dangerously close to being background noise.
I brought this up recently with a guy just a few months shy of 21.
He noted that people have always cussed. True. But given what my ears have heard in the past 56 years it's safe to say that cursing and using derogatory language -- think female dog -- have become as commonplace in day-to-day conversation as saying hello.
There was a time when one used words such as "dear," "honey" and "sweetie" when talking with their significant other. Now calling someone a witch would be much more endearing than the "B-word." And girls call boys by the derogatory term as well. I least gender neutrality has arrived in the world of cursing.
It is easy to blame it on racy rap music. But the glorification of cussing has been in the works for a long time.
It started as shock value. It graduated to "in-your-face" status. And now -- with a small but growing number of younger people -- it has become part of day-to-day conversations.
If cursing indeed has gotten to the point it doesn't mean anything that would be one thing. But if you talk to some of those who tolerate it -- and toss the F-bombs and assorted profanity themselves -- when it is directed at them and they're not in the mood to hear it, they take great offense.
So how did we get to this point? Did we start confusing personal restraint with societal imposed censorship?
I admit to cussing. However, if I utter just one profanity a day that is still one too many.
That said I never direct it at someone else. Besides the fact I was taught it was a sin against civilized behavior to do so, cursing at someone is not exactly effective communication.
That's why I wasn't surprised two days ago when I was jogging by a park when a mom told her son who looked to be about six years of age to "f----ing stop bugging me" and the kid tossed the "f" word right back.
Society isn't collapsing under the weight of cursing but it is sure getting coarser.
The world we live in tends to reflect the tone we set.
We don't have to all become Mr. Rogers. But a day-to-day demur that is more Mr. Rogers than Eric Cartman on South Park certainly will help turn down the anger volume a notch or two.
As for my neighbors, they deserve kudos for instilling civilized behavior in their children.
We should all be more like the 12-year-old when we are frustrated and utter four letter words like "gosh" instead of words that would make George Carlin and Sam Kinison blush.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.