By DAN WHITTLE
Since I won an elementary school "cussin'-contest," does that qualify me to run for U.S. President?
In second grade, I didn't know what all those dirty words meant.
But I knew most of the "blue words" since I often accompanied Daddy Whittle and other adult farm neighbors on rat-killing days back in Swampeast Missouri.
Since my school yard cussin' competition was an older third grader named Larry Dee Taul, I was considered the "under dog" in what turned out to be our hot school yard competitive cussin' competition.
Since Larry Dee was a "town boy" who often hung out at his father's pool hall/saloon, he was considered the favorite in the cussin' competition.
But, I had my cheer leaders ...
"Little Danny Whittle, you sure do know how to cuss good," judged third grader Bonnie Jean Barnes, my first "older woman" girlfriend back in grade school.
"Danny Whittle can cuss a blue streak," judged Brenda Harlan, a fox back in second grade.
Finally, when all the dust had settled after using all the curse words we could think of, it was a proud moment when I was judged "Champion Cusser" of Canalou, Mo., Elementary School of higher ciphering and advanced thinking.
But later that day, those dirty words got me a paddling at school, and then, a second more severe paddling when I got home that afternoon ... whewee!!
Fast forward to the present:
After recently hearing one of the current presidential candidates use the "P" word regarding a seated U.S. President live on international television, I may be qualified to run too.
And I'm not talking "P" as in the word "politics."
What happened to "sharing our values?"
Amazingly, in a matter of hours, in America's current anything goes in politics, that "P" word controversy didn't last two TV news cycles.
I gave up cigarettes 19 long years ago, thanks to God, my wife, a good dog and smart doctor.
However, I still "cuss" a little now and then, stemming mostly from working in newsrooms for more than 50 years.
When I thought wife and no one was listening the other morning around 4 a.m. in the shower, just to keep in practice, I spewed some bone-jarring old fashioned newsroom style curse words ... what we farm children called "grown-up cuss words."
Don't ask me why we cursed so much in newsrooms. Since we could never use curse words in news stories and columns, maybe we over-compensated by using our off-color vocabulary as emotional "manhood" crutches.
"F" bombs were the norm in the old Nashville Banner afternoon newspaper newsroom.
City Editor Brad Carlisle set the tone of newsroom cursing, especially when one of his "lowly-assed reporters" turned in incorrect copy ... or penned something stupid in general.
"Whittle, as an ignorant-assed reporter, when you assume something in your story, you generally make an 'ass' out 'u' and 'me,'" the late city editor barked more than once as other reporters sighed relief it was not them on the burning end of the editor's latest curse word tirade.
I'm the type, if cursed or shouted at, my creative juices dry up.
I do miss, for some weird reason, the pressure of newsroom deadlines. In my era of journalism, if you couldn't make deadline, you were not a "pro."
I don't know if newsroom pressures, however, compare with the pressures of running for president, judging from this recent "P" word episode.
Some career advisors have asked why I didn't get into modern-day TV news commentary.
First, I've been told I have a face for radio and/or newspaper, but not pretty enough to be on TV.
Second, I'm not rude enough to be a TV commentator.
Take MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews ...
I have mixed respect for Matthews, who asks a question, but before his guest can answer, he interrupts them with his own opinion and then, he fires another next question, but quickly answers it himself.
My farm parents had strict rules about interrupting another person, especially our elders, when they were speaking.
When I broke in the news business, we were taught "listening" was equal in importance right up there with the ability to write and speak.
Does this make me "old school?"
"D--n right, hell yeah," and I'm proud of it!!!