Earlier this weekend, my brother had to do the dishes. So he left his room, passed mine, and was just about to head downstairs when I yelled at him to ‘put on some clothes, jeez!’ I said this, because, well, he was only wearing his underwear. This seems like a logical response to what was happening. However, later that day, he was at the pool, and had forgotten his swim-trunks, so he swam in nothing but his underwear. I was fine with it, my dad was fine with it, heck, the other five people there who we only kinda knew were totally fine with it. Again, this seems logical. So: two situations, each involving a clothesless 12-year-old, as well as some sort of appearance in public.
Why are we so fine with one of these, and not OK with the other? The term ‘taboo’ explains this. Taboo means ‘a social custom prohibiting discussion or practice of a particular person, place, or thing.’ As we all know, wearing underwear only is a big no-no in public, but under certain circumstances, such as a swimming area, things that are often even more revealing than underwear are fine. And, not that I’m complaining about that, but why can’t we wear these same clothes in public? Taboos, thats why.
Don’t quite understand yet? Here’s another example. Talking about sex, or racism, or drugs, or opposing political views is almost always frowned upon when done in public. Don’t have X-rated conversations, don’t talk about that ‘fat doobie’ you smoked last night, and don’t talk about how the current presidential status of the US or Nicaragua is good or bad. But when we talk about these things in the context of a joke, well, everything changes. If you heard someone say ‘So, a gang leader from Mexico, Donald Trump, a drug lord, and a hooker walk into a bar…’ you wouldn’t care; I would even listen in! The practically inane restrictions and rules we place on ourselves in this world are crazy. We can’t talk about some things obviously, but under the right context, everything is acceptable. We can’t go out in public wearing nothing but underwear, but during a modeling show that is televised, who cares? Taboos are all around us, and they rarely make sense.
One last (minor) taboo is actually a taboo that’s about writing. Something nobody is allowed to do when writing something is to end a sentence in the middle of a –