Saturday, December 8

[my lawyer] asked me yesterday why it was that I never swore. He found me washing windows in this library, although nobody had ordered me to do that.
So I told my my maternal grandfather's idea that obscenity and blasphemy gave most people permission not to listen respectfully to whatever was being said.
I repeated an old story Grandfather Wills had taught me, which was about a town where a cannon was fired at noon every day. One day the cannoneer was sick at the last minute and was too incapacitated to fire the cannon.
So at high noon there was silence.
All the peole in the town jumped out of their skins when the sun reached its zenith. They asked each other in astonishment, "Good gravy! What was that?"
My lawyer wanted to know what that had to do with my not swearing.
I replied that in an era as foul mouthed as this one, "Good gravy" had the same power to startle as a cannon shot.

--Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

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