Wednesday, February 18, 2009

James and the F Bomb

I was going to post more about “my big bird cage,” and I will next time, but one of my gym buddies accosted me today wanting to know when I was going to write about him.

It’s true; last week after a conversation we had concerning what has been a “life changing” event for him, I told him I intended to write about it, and he’s been reading my blog ever since waiting to see what I had to say about the whole thing.

James is a good guy. I really like him. He’s earnest and a genuinely nice fellow, even if he IS from New York City with that typical in-your-face New York City way about him, including that unmistakable NYC accent.

On that note, what is it about guys from NY? Whether Jewish, Irish (like James), or even Black or Hispanic, they ALL sound like Italian mobsters. "Yo!"

Unfortunately for James however, along with the accent also came the NY tendency to use the F word, the primary derivation of choice for Jim being the one with the “ing” at the end. In fact, he inserted it two, three, even four times in every sentence, usually as an adverb or adjective.

As an aside, most words ending in “ing” are verbs, such as running, walking, talking, etc. But the way James would use the word “f***ing in no way resembled a verb. Without conscious thought, he might say for instance, “I f***ing gave that guy a piece of my f***ing mind, and he just f***ing walked the f**k away.”

It isn't just guys from NY though. These days, almost everyone seems to want to use language like this, but in James’ case he took the practice of being a potty mouth “to a whole nuther level.” So, one day in the locker room, when I noticed that he seemed to be using “the word” even more than he usually did, I decided to press him a little bit about it.

“James, no offense, but do you realize how often you use the word f***ing in your normal conversations?”

At my question he seemed a little non-plussed as he considered how to react to it.

Hesitantly, he responded, albeit somewhat carefully, as though he had been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, “No, not really. Is it a lot?”

I laughed, “James, you use it continuously Man. I’m just curious, do you use it so much because of your years in the Navy, or do you think it’s from where you come from? I know a lot of New Yorkers seem to use it even more than most—kind of like the mobsters do in that movie “Good Fellas.”

I could tell I had struck a sore spot with him, and seeing how he hadn’t reacted too badly to my personal observation I pressed in even more, “You know James, I KNOW that you are not a thick-headed man, but I have to tell you, when I hear you talk with all that profanity, you come off as sounding rather unintelligent, as if you are not clever enough to come up with any other word to describe how you are feeling about things OTHER than THAT word.”

Chastened, much to his credit, James looked downright chagrined. He confessed glumly, “Yeah I know. My wife has been giving me hell for years about it.”

I continued, “I doubt if you even hear yourself. It’s so ingrained that you aren’t even aware of it. I’ll never forget the worst case like that I ever saw. It was a fellow Marine watchstander named Mike Campbell, and like you, he was also from someplace in the Northeast. He came into the embassy one evening to call his mom while I was at Post 1. He made the call within earshot from the consular office and I remember being sort of shocked that almost every other word was the F word. After he hung up I asked him if he was sure that he was talking to his mom, and he said, “Yeah, why do you ask?” I told him, “Because you just used the F word like crazy, and I’ve never heard anyone talk to their mother using language like that.” Funny thing is, Mike didn’t believe me. He insisted that he never used it, not once; but he sure as hell did. Evidently, he never heard himself using it, just like you don’t.”

Jim nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, you’re right. I need to stop. I just did not realize how bad I’ve been doing it until you brought it up.”

“Well, if you want, whenever we talk and I hear you drop an F bomb, I’ll say “boom” and make the Donald Trump gesture in your face like he does when he says, “You’re fired.””

“Okay, you do that. I need to get a handle on this.”

Still curious about the extent of his “problem,” I asked, “You have kids right? Do you talk that way around them?”

“Yep,” he admitted gloomily, “but I told them that they better not talk like that, or else. Plus, I’ve got girls, and I told them that if guys hear a girl talk like that, the impression they get is that the girl “wants something.” It makes them uneasy, but I can tell that they get the point.”

A few days ago I see James in the locker room again. He slips and uses profanity; he looks over at me and asks me why I didn’t remind him that he just dropped an F bomb. I laugh, not really believing that someone like him can ever change his foul speech patterns. It’s just too embedded; basically, I figure that after all these years, it’s who he is.

Flash forward a couple weeks to last Thursday. I see James approaching; he wants to say something so I take off my headset. He asks me if I’ve heard about the guy that died of a heart attack right there in the gym during his workout the other day. We talk off and on for quite a while with him continuing to come over and talk about “stuff.”

Finally, he asks me, “Didn’t you notice? I never once used the F word.”

He was right. Amazingly, not once did he use it; and even as we marveled over that fact, he STILL did not use it.

“How are you managing this? I would have thought it impossible knowing you!”

Proudly he told me, “It was all you Man. The way you brought it up and talked about it without getting all preachy and nasty about it, it made me want to finally do something to stop it.”

I was bowled over. “Really? I did that? Oh my God. Wow! I had THAT much affect on you that you would actually change the way you speak? Dang. I have to admit; that makes me feel pretty darn good.”

I grinned proudly, practically beaming with satisfaction, “Did you tell your wife about the conversation we had that caused you “to see the light?”

“Yup, she knows all about it.”

“Well, I hope you don’t mind, but can I write about this in my blog? I think this is pretty cool.”

James said it was fine with him and wanted to know where he could read my blog. Today, a week later, he reminded me that I said I was going to write about it and still hadn’t.

So, here it is James. This one’s for you, and again, congratulations! And forgive me if I congratulate myself a little as well.


Ed said...

As someone who is a recovered F bomb user, I know what James went through and that it is possible to change. My awakening occurred in a store where I met a former schoolmate a couple years ahead of me. As we talked, he kept dropping the F-bomb so often and loudly, that people started looking at us a little too often for my comfort. I realized how little it added to the conversation and how it must appear to those people that we were just a couple of farm hicks. I vowed to change my ways right then and was successful.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yes, i am also a recovered F bomb addict. I picked mine up in the marines. It was a tough habit to break and it took years of effort. Glad you were able to as well.

Anonymous said...

Much thanks to the F Bomb God!! Phil Drunks have AA, Drug addicts have treatment programs, Gamblers have GA, but F bomb addicts have Philippines Phil Thanks for the story and my road to recovery!!!! Irish Mully

Anonymous said...

What a great effing story! Efffing A, Phil. You are so effing right about this effing profanity issue. It is so effing common for so many effing people to effing swear every other effing word and not even effing know it. It's just so effed up, and I effing wish every effing body would just effing stop it. Thanks, Phil, for all your hard effing work on this effed up lack of common effing courtesy.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting to read that your gym buddy was not even conscious of his using the F word. I always assumed folks knew about it, and even worse, took some pride in the fact that they shocked the rest of us. That F word is bad enough; even worse is the Mother F combination. That's the most disgusting, vile, venom-filled two word combination in the English language. What does that say about the user? And his opinion of his own mother? It's bad enough it's in popular usage but now it's entered the movies as well. And that puts it out there for all the world to see for several generations. What will they think of us Americans 50 years from now when degenerate behavior like that is legitimized in movies?

I'm now reading a book about the British Army's present experience in Iraq and their troops use the term REMF (rear echelon mother f*****) that began with America's experience in Vietnam. What a sick world this is.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yeah, I hear you Kev. It's esconced in you so you might as well and embrace it. I guess.

Opass, the interesting thing to me is that lately, the more we advance as a civilization, the coarser we have become, and the more we accept that coarseness. The MF term began with urban blacks decades ago, and now, through the magic of Hollywood, it is now used by all types of us. Ultimately, it was YOUR generation, the 60s people, who foisted all this counter-culture stuff on the rest of us. There I go again, eh E-Man?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so, sorry for being juvenile, but this whole thing is cracking me up like a 7th grader. And, I still can't remember my effing password.

PhilippinesPhil said...

So, using profanity is no big deal. I get it. We disagree. No problem. I just hate how its become so accepted. To have to listen to nice high school and college kids (in my own family) use it so matter of factly, i find it disturbing. As you know, its almost impossible to turn it on and off when you want to. Inevitably, it gets used at inappropriate times. When I hear someone use it in a conversation with me I feel like that person has no respect for me and others who might be offended by it. And yes, it does offend me.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no. We do agree. People who talk that way make themselves look and sound really stupid. It destroys any and all credibility they may have. We are just reacting differently. You are offended. Fair enough. I understand and respect that. When I hear people talk like that I don't want to hear it any more than you do. But, to myself I am laughing at them and thinking, "what an effing idiot". Holy cow, I am cracking myself up. And, I still can't remember my dadgum password!!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Dadgum! Now there is an expletive I can live with! Glad we're on the same sheet bro.

runnergirl said...

Hi, I found your blog when I googled Jojo Concepcion for a routine background check. I work at a church in Phoenix Arizona and Jojo is currently the church's contermporary director of Worship music. He has a cd out
which has a picture of him on the cover. I am wondering if this is the same jojo that you had the problem with a few years ago. Quite frankly, the Jojo at the church doesn't seem to be the guy he claims to be and there is an edge to him. Also, it has been within the last year that he has "found" the holy spirit...Any help you can give is appreciated!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Runnergirl, I checked the site and the only pic of this fella is from an odd angle, although, having said that, it does resemble the man I wrote about it. I actually hope it is the same guy. That guy was full of anger, full of hatred, full of racism, and certainly didn't seem to have a spiritual bone in his profanity spewing body. That JoJo, who wanted to "smash my face in front of my daughter," was also living with a woman that was not his wife, something, oddly enough, he falsely accused me of doing. He also claimed to be from San Francisco. His threatening foul mouthed attitude made him seem more a gangbanger from the streets than a Christian minister. I'm sure there is more than one JoJo Concepcion from the Philippines in the world, and I wouldn't want to say that this is the same guy. However, as I said, I hope it is him, because Halleluja, that might mean that "he has seen the light" and changed his ugly ways. We can only hope. Hey, if anyone would like to read the posts that Runnergirl is referring to, there are three in a series. The first one is "Potty Mouth Killer," the second is "A Barangay Hearing, and the third is "Confrontation, the end."

runnergirl said...

Here is a link to his myspace. There are some photos on it that are pretty clear. Again, any help can give is appreciated. Again, we just think that even though this guy has been "saved" there is still something that is "off". thanks

PhilippinesPhil said...

Looks a lot like the same fella, but that doesn't mean much. Let me show the photo to my now ex wife; she will know immediately if its him. Please be patient, since I don't see her all that often. I'm not sure why you are so worried if its the same guy. If he's found the Holy Spirit then he's a different fellow. As I said, I really hope it IS him. The guy I had my intense confrontation with needed some reconstruction, big time! Anyway, I'll get back to you with what she says as soon as I can show the photo to her.

runnergirl said...

Thanks so much. The reason we are concerned is that he has been showing some charactoristics that are not in line with who he says he is. Even if it is the same man and he has found God (which is good) he has shown some sides to his personality that are not consistant. He has become arogant and self serving which are two big red flags. The congegation appears to be divided as to whether or not they believe that his is who he says he is. If it turns out to be him we won't act on it, but it will give us a head's up of where he came from. He still has a "flash" of anger in him that I have seen. But he hasn't dropped the Fbomb, so that is good! My husband was an airfore brat (he is 50). He lived in the philippines for a bit when he wss in his teens. He has lots of stories to tell. Sorry that she is your ex-wife. Thanks again for yout time with this. We appreciate it!

PhilippinesPhil said...

Yeah, arrogance was definitely one of My JoJo's personality traits. Hey, I suggest we continue this via email. Drop me a line at If you forget it, I also list it here in my Blog. Talk to you soon RG.

Unknown said...

like your blog

im somewhat reformed f bomber. i called a guy out on his severe f bombing last month at an AA meeting. and since then i am more aware of my own language. cant have the pot calling the kettle black. Ohh he didnt like it at all.
but there were a lot of people there that probably didnt care for that language either. i excuse my cussing in that i use it selectivly, but thats a cop out i know. bad language is not good ever.


Anonymous said...

Jojo Concepcion did not just find the spirit about a year ago. I met him about 10 years ago where he left very suddenly for Arizona for a job. He was very indulged in the music and I was part of the group had. We made music together as a group and I have to say I'm a little bothered by the fact that the songs are the same/ very similar to what we collaberated together. I loved the group and the music, but in the end things went sour.

PhilippinesPhil said...

Must be a different JoJo Concepcion than the one I ran into. The one I met didn't have even an ounce of Christian love in his soul. He's a foul mouthed bigot with a gigantic chip on his shoulder.