In light of the Supreme Court’s ponderings on the appropriateness of the Seven Dirty Words on television, I’d like to tell you where I recently found a good use for the words.
While driving my daughter to a doctor’s appointment, I stopped at signal light where I overheard a young man yelling at his female companion in a McDonald’s parking lot. I couldn’t quite decipher the details, but when I heard him strafe her with the “F-bomb,” I swerved into the U-turn lane.
My detour brought a string of protests from my daughter.
“Dad! What are you doing? You’ll make us late!”
When I explained I was going to offer the girl a ride, my daughter went into debate mode.
“She’ll be OK. He’s only at her yelling. He’s not hitting her.”
“He’s about to hit her,” I predicted as I noticed the man blocking her attempt to enter the crosswalk.
“He wouldn’t hit her in front of all these people,” she countered.
“Oh, yes, he would!”
“How do you know that?” she demanded.
“I know because a man who is willing to verbally assault someone in public has lost his sense of boundaries.”
Just as the signal changed, so did the tone of the argument. The man grabbed the woman’s hair and yanked her back to the curb. With his other hand, he pummeled her upper body.
That’s when I crossed my own boundaries and slammed my fist onto my steering wheel, wishing it were his face. The resultant horn blast was the perfect accompaniment for my cluster bomb of expletives — words no one has ever heard me say in public.
I don’t know where those words have been hiding, but I also knew it wasn’t the place to practice my Victorian sensibilities by saying, “Harken unto yonder couple, my dear daughter. Let us retire to a space several yards from this damsel so that we may ascertain her level of distress and offer our humble assistance.”
With a squeal of tires, I U-turned through the red light and careened into the McDonald’s lot. The coward wisely disappeared, leaving the woman stunned, but unhurt.
By this time, my daughter was onboard and volunteered to approach the woman with for some girl-talk. Through my open window, I heard the woman explain how her ex-boyfriend disagreed with her breakup suggestion. She pointed across the street to her apartment with an insistence that she’d be OK.
A few hours later, I found myself apologizing to my daughter for my language and the rashness that could have gotten us killed. She said she understood.
Not to be trite, but the whole thing begs the WWJD question. Scripture records a similar moment when Jesus took action in the face of evil. In a famous story sometimes called “The Cleansing of the Temple,” Jesus went on a tirade when he discovered that loan sharks and merchants were using the temple as a flea market for the financially privileged.
With language that likely would’ve offended a few of the self-righteous, Jesus accused the merchants of making God’s house into a “den of thieves.” He overturned the money tables and chased miscreants out with a cracking whip. The Scripture concludes that Jesus’ outburst made “room for the blind and crippled to get in … and Jesus healed them.”
While I can’t claim those results from my rant, I do think that my expletives were well spent if my daughter, previously blind to domestic violence, saw firsthand a father who won’t let it stand.