Watch Your Language!

PSHAW! I actually heard someone use that term at a Wawa gas pump. The receipt printer was out of paper, and she was forced to go inside to get a receipt. She was upset.

I’ve been out of school for a LONG time, and the only time I’ve ever heard or read the term, pshaw, was during elementary school in preparation for a vocabulary test. In fact, no one I’ve ever known has ever used this word to express irritation or any other emotion.

But hearing it made me think back to times when I felt a need to verbalize irritation, disapproval, contempt, shock, or disbelief, along with a few other choice things I’ve heard others say at particularly emotional times.

For instance, I made my first sky-dive when I turned 18-years-old (1960). I loved it, and throughout the years, I jumped every chance I got. I made my last jump in 2005, about two months after a lifelong friend died when his chute failed to open.

During the memorial service, a minister told us that, “You may all take consolation in the fact that Don died doing something that he loved.”

The man’s intentions were golden, but his words irritated me the same way that fingernails screeching across a slate chalkboard irritate me.

God must have thought Don a very special person. After all, He could have let him die in an automobile accident, or as the result of some ridiculous, run-of-the-mill heart attack.

When skydivers leave a jump plane from about 14,000 feet, it takes approximately 13-seconds to reach terminal velocity (about 120 MPH or 176 feet/second). They continue to free-fall until it’s time to deploy their chutes.

If the main chute does not deploy, they’re no more than about 10-seconds from the mother lode of sudden stops.

In Don’s case, due to circumstances, he had to cut away his main cute before deploying his reserve. This took an additional 5-seconds. His reserve also malfunctioned (a rarity), but he fought it all the way to impact.

From my own experiences, I seriously doubt that Don said “pshaw;” or that he was thanking God for the way he was about to die.

I’ve experienced three main-chute malfunctions requiring cutaways during my skydiving career; thankfully, my reserves always inflated properly.

But while all the turmoil was in progress, I assure you that I was stating my feelings in concise 4-letter expletives, and believe me; the term “PSHAW” never entered my mind.

Neither, incidentally, did I think about thanking God for anything, even after I was safely on the ground. I was way too busy worrying if my heart was going to start beating again, as well as getting my butt to a locker-room to change my underwear.

Over the years, especially after the birth of my children, I experienced other emotionally trying events.

I’m still embarrassed over the words I used to express my feelings when I received the first automobile insurance bill that included my 16-year-old son. And, again, “pshaw” was not one of them.

No parent ever forgets a ringing telephone that shatters a peaceful sleep. Especially when the voice on the other end was my son’s girlfriend calling from the emergency room to tell me that they were OK, but they had been in an accident.

And can you imagine the shock I experienced when I arrived at the emergency room to have the police explain that it was a DUI case?

They, he and his girlfriend, had partaken of a wee too much of the fermented grape. He had sideswiped a telephone pole and two other cars in a parking lot.

Again, “pshaw” wasn’t one of the words I used. After I calmed down, I called my wife to let her know that the two of them were OK. Her reaction was, “Thank God.”

I agreed with her. Their being OK made me think that maybe there is a God, after all, and that He spared my son simply because He knew, intuitively, that I wanted to be the one to kill him.

Finally, my daughter has three very playful cats. Their favorite toys are four of those little Lego-type building blocks. They swat them back and forth on the bathroom tile floor during some of their middle-of-the-night cat-hockey games.

Well, I stepped on one with my bare feet at 4 AM this morning as I groggily went to use the bathroom. “Ouch!” Pshaw!” “Darn, that hurts!”

Yea; that’s what I said. The damn cats are still hiding under the sofa in the living room!

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