Watch Out for Words (A Blunder Story)

I read. I write. I blog. I like words.

But sometimes I don’t give words the respect they deserve.

Earlier this summer,  friends invited us to join them for an afternoon at a renaissance festival. Horses, knights, old-time crafts, and pleasant company. Sounded like it could be fun—so we agreed.

To ensure we had the best possible time, I printed the schedule from the website and researched the entertainers. I Googled ’em all. I marked X’s through the slow-singing groups in cheesy costumes and the old men folk dancing in tights. Then I highlighted acts that included weapons or danger of some sort.  Among these was Adam the juggler. When I looked up his act on Youtube, I was delighted to see that he juggled fire. Definitely promising—and he happened to be performing on the main stage just after we arrived. Certain the kids would love it, I confidenty steered our group toward the stage.

There was no fire. Disappointing, but it made sense considering the stage was in the middle of a little grove of trees. The juggling was OK. And that is more than can be said for anything that came out of that man’s mouth! The most amazing thing about Adam’s act was his ability to spew nonstop filth while throwing things in the air. Every transition in his number was marked by some vile and inappropriate sex/drug reference. There were 10 – 15 children right up front (including ours). What was he thinking?!

When it became clear this filthy juggler wasn’t going to turn from his course, we got fed up and left.

I felt pretty sheepish about my wonderful idea. And I was angry at that man for behaving so disgustingly in front of all those kids.

That’s when the light came on.

The act was not called Adam the juggler; it was called Adam the bawdy juggler. When I first saw the word bawdy on the schedule, it evoked a sense of roughness—which my mind interpreted as reckless and bold. I guess this impression was further burned into my consciousness by the Youtube images of flames soaring through the air above his head. But later, as I fumed about the juggler’s indiscretion, I was pricked with a small, but rapidly growing fear that my dismissal of the word bawdy was somehow to blame for our exposure to his remarks.

I had to find out.

Right there between the mead tent and the lavender crafts booth, I pulled out my Droid and checked the free online dictionary. This is what I found.

Bawdy 1. Humorously coarse; risqué. 2. Vulgar; lewd.

Oh dear.

Words are important.

5 thoughts on “Watch Out for Words (A Blunder Story)”

  1. He still could have given some sort of warning to the parents, a reminder of sorts;
    “Hey folks, remember I’m the *bawdy* juggler…”
    Words ARE important, and commas can save lives, for example:
    “Let’s eat Grandpa.” “Let’s eat, Grandpa.”

  2. Oops…….
    One of my weaknesses is that I become annoyed when people do not read emails and therefore fail to answer the question that I have worded very carefully.

    This morning I received an email from a manager who was asking about an employee who had just resigned. He had worded it very clearly. The first paragraph stated that the employee is resigning to leave on 30 September. The THIRD paragraph said that the manager wants her to leave with immediate effect because she is going to the opposition.

    I managed to put part of the first paragraph together with part of the third and come up with, “the employee is resigning with immediate effect” and I wrote a long response explaining the importance of the notice period etc….. Very embarrassing!

  3. Maxim – Fortunately, most of the “humor” was above the kids’ heads. Hopefully no permanent trauma… Wish I could say the same for myself. 🙂

    Neeks – In his defense: Afterwards, I heard him announcing a later performance, and he did qualify it as the “adult show”, suggesting that parents bring their children to the magic show instead. I’ll watch out for those commas too!

    Ian – Yeah, sounds awkward alright. 🙂

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