Shakespearean Swearing

I’m no professor of linguistics, but I do understand that language evolves over time. Pick up a copy of Canterbury Tales or Satyricon and try to tell me you understand every phrase in there. What I didn’t think too much about until recently is that this constant updating, re-purposing, and hijacking of words and phrases applies to cursing, too.

An article I read recently went into great detail about the role that profanity played in the Elizabethan Era. How it was aligned closely with divinity (the word “God” being used in many of the harsher swears of the time) and of course social status.

It’s a very informative read and I got a lot out of it, but the part that really stuck out to me was the very first paragraph which reads:

“In Henry IV, Part One, Shakespeare’s Hotspur turns on his prissy wife: “Heart! You swear like a comfit-maker’s wife. ‘Not you in good sooth!’ and ‘as true as I live!’” Instead Hotspur demanded a good mouth-filling oath. Something like his own “By God’s heart” was more suited to a lady of rank.”

Shakespeare, you know how to write a good story, I’ll give you that. And you’re phenomenal at coming up with new words. But, you’re one sexist bastard. I am more than aware that misogyny isn’t a new trend that just recently popped up, yet that passage by Shakespeare had me shaking my damn head. Leave it to a medieval patriarch to think that his wife needs to improve the language she uses and then offer up suggestions. He’s literally trying to put words in her mouth!

And I’ll admit, I had to look up just what the hell a comfit-maker was because while it sounded familiar, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Turns out that’s just a fancy way of saying candy maker. Back in Shakespeare’s times comfit-makers were the people who made little confections out of dried fruits and nuts that would then be used in desserts… nonpareils, sugar plums, candied almonds, hundreds and thousands (aka sprinkles or jimmies) and the like.

To be honest, being a comfit-maker’s wife doesn’t sound like a bad gig. Sure, if I were living back in the 1600s and was hitched to one of them, I probably wouldn’t be too well off financially. Or socially for that matter. I mean, how much can a bag of candied almonds bring in really? But still, I’d have all the candy I could eat. More importantly, I’d be able to curse however I wanted. Except if it got me sent to the stockades. You gotta watch out for the stockades.

 

stockades

Kid in a Candy Store

Went to a very cool candy store the other day with my daughter…in addition to the upscale staples like Godiva and Lindor, this place had all sorts of “retro” candy. While it sent me into a vortex of memories and constant outbursts of “I remember those!” I was also left explaining to Sarah that yes, kids did in fact eat those sugary, often wax covered, messes that passed for candy in our day.  And with a smile to boot.  Oh, and if we didn’t have a smile for whatever reason, we always had wax lips to give others the impression we were smiling. Or vampires. Or old men. Or had some serious lip plumper surgery. Changing our identity through candy products was easy-peasy back in the day.

I was surprised to see candy cigarettes.  I thought those would’ve gone out the window when the powers that be stopped showing people smoking in movies and ads.  But nope.  They were there too.  Sarah actually remembers playing with and eating those.  Not sure what that says about me as a parent.

This fit of nostalgia was well-timed. I needed a little boost in my day and besides being surrounded by candy, which in itself is always uplifting, the trip down memory lane succeeded in making me smile.  When he was younger and through the teenage years, my brother played Little League baseball.  He was a pretty talented pitcher (don’t let him know I said that) and my Dad often coached. Not to be left behind in a boring house, my mother always attended the games which meant my attendance at these weekly games was forced as well.  A family affair.

Most of my time was spent with a friend who also had a brother on the team and if we weren’t at her house swimming in a green, stagnant pool or roaming the surrounding area for free puppies to bring home, we were at the concession stand.  I loved the concession stand. Hot dogs, cardboard pizza, snowballs. And candy.  Gigantic pixie sticks which I have no doubt had my mother shaking her head upon my return to our seats as she imagined the meltdown sure to come once the sugar rush wore off.  Wax lips?  Of course.  Wax soda bottles filled with some unknown liquid that tasted nothing like soda and I wouldn’t touch with a broom stick nowadays? Yep. Those too.

My favorite, which also happens to be Sarah’s favorite, were candy necklaces.  Although my friends and I had bracelets too.  I didn’t see those at the store Sarah and I recently visited. Ahhh, the memories. I tell you, there’s nothing like wearing bits of candy against your 10-year old naked neck or wrapped tightly around a filthy wrist in 90-degree weather as you run chaotically around a park that’s made up of busy, red-earth filled baseball fields and where even the parking lot was made of loose clay, thus having clouds of red dust and dirt continually blooming up into your face, on your hands from being an “active kid,” and every other exposed body part (and from the looks of my socks after a game, even some body parts that weren’t exposed) that mixed nicely with the inevitable sweat to create a thin (or not so thin) sheen of grime along your skin, then eating said candy.  Oh yeah.  Good times.

those were the gum chewing days

those were the gum chewing days

 

not even sure what the hell that liquid inside even is

not even sure what the hell that liquid inside even is

 

excuse me while I change my identity by gnawing on bits of colored wax

excuse me while I change my identity by gnawing on bits of colored wax

 

dots of ...sugar flavored sugar, always a good idea

dots of …sugar flavored sugar, always a good idea for small children

 

teaching bad habits early...that was apparently the idea

teaching bad habits early…that was apparently the idea

 

oh yes, always a yummy treat

oh yes, always a yummy treat

Rabbits Afoot

The Easter Bunny came to my house a little early this year…AND she knows me soooo well… yum!  I love this time of year if for no other reason than creme eggs!  Well, that and Spring weather.  But mostly the creme eggs.

So spill the beans everybody — what’s your favorite candy? Something you can just go out and pick up everyday whenever you’re in the mood, or is it that one elusive confection that’s only available during certain seasons or in a specific place so you’re forced to turn into a sweets hoarder when you finally do see it in a market?

 

creme eggs

Priorities

While I wait patiently for my true love, I’ll do my duty and share this very important public service announcement.  I knew you wouldn’t want to miss the real meaning of happiness associated with Valentine’s Day. Candy. On sale. Just so long as it’s not those dreaded candy hearts.  Yuck.

 

valentine candy sale

Candy Hearts — A Not so Sweet Treat

Be Mine. Luv U. Hug Me. Kiss Me. Blah blah blah. These are the quotes I stumble across at unexpected times in these post-Valentine Day weeks. Little chalky hearts, supposedly candy, are stashed in nooks and crannies throughout my house. The words sound nice and are very touching messages, but the “candy” itself tastes so god awful there has to be some sort of passive aggressive maliciousness at play. In simpler terms, that candy tastes so bad if you give it to someone, it’s pretty clear that you must not like them that much. They’re like amazingly hard little pellets of bitter powder that has been aged since Lincoln was in office. I don’t care what’s written down, some sweets just aren’t that sweet.

Based on the insult they give my tongue whenever I’m naïve enough to try one again (thinking maybe they changed their recipe) we ought to be reading messages such as Go Away. WTF. UR Kidding. Not A Chance. Or for those who are married: Do Laundry. Mow Grass. Have Headache. Diaper Duty. Not Now. Done Already? If UR Quick.

Next Valentine’s Day I would love if some candy company made a series of these treats where the message matched the taste. Until then I’ll continue shaking my head wondering why yet again these anti-candies made it into my house.

a not so sweet treat

a not so sweet treat