Random Thursday Blogswap: There’s Always $#!%

What could be more random than not actually writing Thursday’s post?

The following bit of self-depreciating brilliance is from Averil Dean, who is an incredible writer, a thought-provoking blogger, a visual artist, and a terrific friend—no matter what she might think.

If you don’t already follow her blog, do yourself a favor and check it out—and not only because I’m over there today talking about the difference between porn and erotica . . . and which one makes me walk into walls.

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Okay, this is my fourth try at writing a post for Sarah’s place. She’s a tough act to follow, let me tell you. She’s fun and funny and smart, and she knows about poetry and history and shit like—

Oh, here we go. Three sentences in and I’m ready to drop a four-letter word into her beautiful blog. What is the matter with me? Why, for the love of Pete, can’t I stop the profanity?

It’s not as though my vocabulary would suffer some immense loss if I were to abandon my predilection and aim my buggy down the straight and narrow path toward clarity and the pristine expression of thought. I can do this. I know there are better words out there, kinder on the ear, more intelligent and less offensive. And if the urge overwhelmed me, there’s always $#!%.

But I’ll admit to a sneaky satisfaction in using the naughty words. They have a beautiful look about them—short, carved into the page, a vowel and a collection of sharp consonants. They are a disruption, a distraction, a fleck of pepper in the milk. When you use them well, they become a sort of blasé punctuation (Yeah, I called that guy a d___, but did you see how I avoided the exclamation point?), a way to indicate that the writer is fired up beyond caring and will curse as she damn well pleases. Profanity is punk. Dirty. Unworried. All my favorite qualities, in such nifty little packages.

I like the division they provide between people: those who curse and those who don’t. We potty-mouths love to goose you with an f-bomb. We consider it a public service, designed to help you rid yourself of the urge, or possibly remind you of why you choose not befoul your speech in the first place. (You’re welcome.) We think you’re adorable. We’re behind you at the back of the classroom, passing notes you’d rather not read, sticking a wet finger in your ear while the teacher is lecturing wah wah wah at the chalkboard. Come on, we whisper. You know you want to . . .

And as my mother told me decades ago, if you have an innocent face you should cultivate a colorful pattern of language. Everyone needs dichotomy.

But of course, I’m at Sarah’s site today. Her mother is reading, and may not have shared the same advice with her daughter. If she reads this, she may refuse to let Sarah come over to my place and play in my sandbox.* She may tell Sarah I’m not a good friend for her, a bad influence, not the kind of person you’d want to–

You know what? Sarah’s mom is right.

Fuck it.

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Photograph by the incomparable Ellen von Unwerth

*Sarah’s Note:  Who do you think taught me most of my more colorful vocabulary?