Quote, September 3 2012 — Your life is what it is, there are ways you can change and ways you are who you are (also, some thoughts of my own on profanity)

you’re gonna be you no matter what! . . . it’s stupid to think you’re going to end up as someone completely wrong because of luck. It’ll change how you get there

– Ethel, talking to herself at the Museum of the Theoretical, “Ethels”, Subnormality #202, written & drawn by Winston Rowntree, August 30 2012 (site last accessed September 3 2012)

Once in a while there will be a Subnormality comic I disagree with, or just don’t get. But for every one of those, there are four or five (or more) that — to me — are wonderful. They are funny, insightful, and moving.

(As a warning to other readers — there’s also occasional profanity and adult situations. I don’t mind that type of stuff, but I know some people do. [1])

“Ethels” is one of those Subnormality comics that I really like, involving one person meeting three other potential versions of herself. Even though all four potential Ethels have gone down different paths of their lives, they each find something in their own life to be happy and content with. Yet they also find something in each of the others’ lives to applaud as well.

A lengthier excerpt of that section is:

Struggling horror novelist and unemployed Ethel: Oh Christ, I was supposed to work at the ****ing production company?

Successful and published non-fiction writer (after being kicked out of high school, arrested, community service & not getting along with her parents for 10 years) Ethel: Oh ****, that is not the lesson.

Depressed but married and deeply in love independent film projects Ethel: Yeah, you’re not supposed to be doing anything, y’know! For ****’s sake, there’s not one real you and then a bunch of other ones that each made some tiny but vital error! Obviously there’re epic-length mistakes anyone should avoid, like ****in’ being dishonest with yourself as a lifestyle or marrying someone you hate or otherwise telling your inner voice to **** off, but beyond that you’re gonna be you no matter what!

Employed career woman but misses the fiction writing Ethel: Given a certain level of self-respect, which you actually do have, believe it or not. Ripley’s believe it or not.

Successful non-fiction writer (after being kicked out of high school, arrested, community service & not getting along with the parents for 10 years) Ethel: And it’s stupid to think you’re going to end up as someone completely wrong because of luck. It’ll change how you get there, but you’re still gonna be Ethel the ****ing ray of sunshine.

It’s a good comic. I recommend reading the whole thing (and yes, Subnormality deserves it’s subtitle of “Comix with too many words”). I’ve been considering getting some of his comics as posters, if he makes a poster of “Ethels” I probably will order that one.

[1] Sometimes people get so offended by profanity that to me it’s a bit ridiculous.

As an example:

  • Person A tells me with great satisfaction that she’s hidden Person B’s posts on her Facebook page because Person B uses too much profanity. Person B is a friend of mine and I don’t mind his profanity that much. Person A know this. However, Person A finds Person B’s profanity so offensive she tells me multiple times how much she disapproves of Person B’s profanity and how she has long since hidden any and all posts he puts up on Facebook.
  • However, Person A repeatedly quotes and/or references Person C’s Facebook posts. I no longer associate with Person C, have no wish to associate with him, and really don’t want to hear about him. I no longer associate with Person C because he was misleading and deliberately hurtful in his dealings with me, up to and including stating it was no longer worth his time to talk to me personally but he intended to talk to other people about me and give me an unpleasant and untrue reputation while doing so. Person A is aware of all this, as I have explained this to her multiple times, yet she continues to bring up Person C and recount Person C’s Facebook posts on multiple occasions.


  1. Does Person A really and truly believe that “cussing” is a worse offense than “stabbing a friend in the back”? (Even if Person A has privately decided that Person C’s explanation of events is a truer account than my view of events, I would have expected her to long ago quit bringing up Person C in conversation or citing Person C as an authority on anything.);
  2. Or does Person A just make a regular habit of talking without thinking, and in this case is using her outrage!!!!! over cussing as a pretext for doing so?

This is an example of why I am a bit unsympathetic to those who are so thoroughly offended by profanity.

Yes, profanity does get overused in conversation. There’s a lot of things that can be said effectively without profanity.

I’ve even argued that overuse of profanity leaves a person at a loss when they want to express how strongly they feel about something. A string of profanity from someone who uses cuss words all the time does not have the same impact or make the same impression on listeners as a string of profanity from someone who typically doesn’t cuss.

However, there are so very many of those who use their outrage!!!!! at profanity as an excuse to be petty, shortsighted, and judgmental that on the whole, I would rather spend time with those who cuss and occasionally mention to them that cussing as a regular habit can give undesirable impressions in mixed company, than deal with those who like to dwell on how very offended they are.

All of which is to say: if you disapprove of profanity, you’ll probably disapprove of quite a few of Rowntree’s Subnormality comics. I will respect your choice, but I’m not terribly sympathetic.

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