Cuss Free Week

Harper's CornerJessica Harper
By Jessica Harper
May 2010

"Gosh darnit! I left my flip light on the airplane! An essential tool for my PXE eyes! (I'd use stronger language, but it's Cuss Free Week in California.)"

I left my darn flip light on the plane! I can't live without my flip light; it illuminates all the little things that would otherwise, thanks to my PXE eyes, be gray and dim. I use the flip light to adjust the oven temperature, to plug in a plug, to turn on the air conditioner, and to read on the airplane. But I left it on flight 402. Darn!

The reason I'm saying "darn" a lot, by the way, instead of stronger language, is that it is Cuss Free Week in California. What happened was, this kid in Pasadena started a "No Cussing Club' in his junior high school a couple years ago. Next thing you know, some Assemblyman from La Canada (who apparently has nothing better to do since our state is so ship shape in every other respect) proposed a resolution which the Assembly has passed and is sending on to the Senate, to make this thing real and annual, so all us cussers will, from now on, be forced to abstain for a whole darn week every darn March.

Actually, I have been pretty good about observing CFW. Others, I've noticed, have not been so compliant. Sandra Bullock's publicist was quite abusive when I stepped on the train of her client's dress at the Oscars, but I think that was technically just before Cuss Free Week started, so I let it go.

But that gas station attendant really let loose the other day when Tom and I forgot to remove the gas pump/hose/thing from our vehicle before leaving the premises. Golly, he was mad. I tried to tell him about the significance of Cuss Free Week but I guess he didn't hear me because he said something very naughty in reply.

Even Tom slipped out a curse when we lost power tonight just as he'd snapped on the TV to chill with a little Sports Center. In spite of my gentle reminder that California wasn't cussin', he uttered a few more nasty ones when forced to read the sports section by dim flashlight.

But I did pretty well, curse-wise, even when my dog Oliver vomited on the carpet just as I left for the airport the other day. Flying back to LAX today, I was very frustrated because my flight was delayed two hours, but even though I was at that moment only en route to California, not actually in it, I kept the colorful language in my head.

Now I'm home and I realize my flip light is missing and we have no power and I'm losing my Cuss Free resolve. I took it out in mid-flight to read some Palin-bashing article in the paper. It was a piece that inspired in me a rare (I mean, really rare, as in, never happens) moment of empathy for the ex-governor.

As I'm sure you recall, Sarah was taking a lot of heat for writing those notes on her hand, prompts for her speech at that tea party convention. However, as an avid palm writer myself, I totally get where she's coming from. I mean, when you're in the vicinity of fifty, who can remember anything without a little support?

I find it useful in family discussions to have a few notes handy. Like, the other night, when Tom discovered the shoebox in the recycler and we had a lively debate about whether a woman really needs to own five different styles of black pumps, I was really glad I'd jotted down a few talking points on my hand before things heated up.

When my daughter brought home the Honda with a very impressive scrape across two doors, I was pleased that, in the ensuing exchange between us, I'd had the foresight to jot down some notes on the cost of scrape repair and the wisdom of driving carefully. I felt I was able to put a sizeable dent (pardon the excellent pun) in her defense ("the stupid post just appeared out of nowhere!"), and I felt good about that even after I paid the $1800.

I also use palm jots as a handy reminder system when I am multi-tasking at home. If I leave my office to go to the bedroom, say, to get my back scratcher, I make a note on my palm as to why I am going to the bedroom, otherwise, when I arrive there, I will often have forgotten what my mission was and I will have to return to my office and wait until that information resurfaces. Or if I make a phone call, I will write down the name of the person I'm calling before I dial, so when they answer, I will not have forgotten and need to ask them who they are.

Hey, maybe if I'd written on my palm, "Don't leave your flip light on flight 402," I'd have it in my hands right now. Instead I'm tapping on my laptop, which is bound to expire in a minute or two, at which point I will be very tempted to say something stronger than "darn."

Tomorrow I'm going to go online and buy another flip light. In fact, I will get two and keep one by the bed and one in the kitchen for all those little visual challenges. If you would like to buy a flip light, too, for your PXE eyes, click here for a website that sells them. I also just discovered that the Museum of Modern Art's store sells a very cool, similar light. Click here to check that one out.


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