I apologize to you, for whom swearing is a fucking no-no. But this post is all about my love of the naughty four letter word. You can list all the great authors, drone on about the language of Shakespeare and Dickens, and Joyce. But I will tell you sometimes there is just no other word that’s as elegant or apt as the one you’re not supposed to say in polite company. My mom said “shit” and “damn.” And you knew my dad was steaming mad if he said “fuck,” which my mother abhorred. That is, until she was older, and my sisters and I all swore like sailors. One day, my mom, a friend of hers, my sister and I were all out in the back yard, discussing how the word “fuck” was so commonly used, it had really lost its impact. My sister told us how her 7th grade students used the phrase “fucking asshole” constantly, so she finally said to them, “So tell me, what exactly does a fucking asshole look like?” This stumped them, and oddly, actually stopped them from using it. My mom was giving my sister a disapproving look throughout the story, but then she stunned us all, when she looked at her friend with a deadpan face and said, “These fucking kids.” She used the word frequently after that, and it always made us howl with laughter.
But let’s get back to me and the adoration I have for a good potty mouth. Yes, I have kids. And no, I did not stop swearing when I became a mom. No, I never said to them, “Will you fucking stop crying!” (although admittedly I thought it in my head). Yes, some people would find that appalling,” but others, the ones I would like to know and who would probably become my best friends, would be the ones that understand that you can be an excellent mother and still have a fondness for cursing.
When it comes to swearing, my mentor is Deb on Dexter. Nobody quite puts it together like Deb. “Fuck me sideways.” “Mother fuck, holy Jesus on a stick.” “Sweet Mary mother fuck,.” These are just a handful of some of Deb’s best bad language moments.
My dad used to say to me that if you get used to swearing, one day you’ll swear in the wrong company and you’ll be proverbially fucked. I haven’t really ever had that happen. Sometimes I swear with a client when I think they are the kind of person, who too, understands the joy of cussing. Sometimes I swear in the class I teach. My advertising partner wouldn’t swear if a house fell on top of her like the wicked witch of the East in The Wizard of Oz (which, did you hear, is out in 3-D!).
I don’t think of swearing as immoral. I don’t think that it means you’re uneducated, or have a lousy and limited vocabulary. Sometimes I think it’s just funny. Sometimes I find it is an ice breaker between people. Sometimes I use it to convey my casualness.
And sometimes, swearing is just the only thing to do. You’re in the car, doing your thing, in a happy mood, and suddenly you get cut off by some entitled driver, who nearly causes you to get into a super-sized accident (a yoga mom, who’s got no zen, a mid-life crisis dude showing off in his ridiculous sports car, a stressed out cab driver who is working for a tip and has to get there NOW) and there is nothing you can say that would convey your annoyance and disgust like a big fat “FUCK.” I mean, right? What do you non-swearers say–DARN. It just doesn’t really get to the heart of a situation like that. It doesn’t nearly satisfy that part of me that gets angered by a moment when you’re actually almost killed.
Anyway, so grateful for the full range of four letter words out there, at my disposal. I am guessing I will never stop swearing. And I might never stop being judged for it. But, fuck it, that’s just fine with me.