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?

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33 thoughts on “Random Thursday Blogswap: There’s Always $#!%

  1. My mother had another take on this which attacked my intelligence when I used foul language. She claimed that I only relied on such words because I wasn’t smart enough to come up with better ones.

    My mom really needs a computer so she can read this post. You’re right about word selection the way curse words fill a specific need.

    Having said that, I’ve trained myself to say fiddlesticks instead of fuck. I get lots of odd looks for it.

  2. “…goose you with an f-bomb.” Yes, that is EXACTLY what it’s like.
    I love your mother’s words. Absofuckinglutely. Everyone needs dichotomy. The fact that not everybody has it is probably what’s wrong with the world.

    The way I see it, your cursing has been, for the most part, limited to the page, which makes it art and art, if you haven’t heard, is never inappropriate.

  3. Averil,
    Ha! Well done.
    There has been a movement, if you will, in my particular corner of corporate America to ban the more colorful language. I was told a few years ago that they would prefer “fiddlesticks” to the better known counterpart. Huh. Right-o.
    One day a senior exec came over to me after a particularly colorful diatribe of mine to reprimand me but after I explained the situation ending with, “What the fuck would you have told this douchebag?” he laughed and said, “Tell you what. Just not on the phones, okay?”
    Done, my friend.
    And no, I don’t curse at home or around kids. And I try to keep it out of my writing. But in real life, among grown-ups? I’m a straight-up, New York, trash-talker.

  4. Maybe I’ll use “fleck of pepper in the milk!” from now on. I love that. Almost as good as FUCK. I think my mom taught me that word herself (yes, I have THAT mother). My go-to word is mutherfucker. It just feels right in my mouth. Especially when I just shut my hand in a drawer. I don’t think I could survive a day without mutherfucker.

    • Oh, that’s a great word. It flows right out at hand-slamming time. Emphasis on the third syllable and off she goes.

      Let’s raise our glasses (of pepper-flecked milk) to the trash-talking mamas.

  5. I definitely like the freedom of using four letter words. Fairly regularly, I write things about my children for distribution to our extended family, and it has to be clean and sanitized. When I started my blog last spring, it was such a relief to swear whenever I wanted to. And of course, I like to fling those words around in my novels too. I think they are great, descriptive words to use. That being said, I’m not sure how I feel about my children using them. Double standard!

    • My children know better than to mess with the double standard. They’ve all seen psycho-mama, and live in fear that she might return. Even my 18-year-old keeps it clean.

    • Exactly! Or a triple standard, as I swear like a sailor, but can’t seem to type most of them out onto the page.

      I usually resort to something like, “David said a bad word.” I’m mealy-fingered, is what I am.

  6. I’ve searched far and wide, and there’s just nothing ever better than Fuck in the right moment. I wish I could give it up. I’ve tried! But too many times no other word will do. “Well fuck me” might be my favorite derivation.

    My grandmother cussed like the worst sailor, except she never never used the F word. And did not allow the word in her house. She’d come in on a winter morning screaming, It’s colder than a witch’s tit! Or say about her neighbor’s husband, That cocksucking-son-of-a-bitch! But the F word? No way.

    • Well, cocksucker is a helluva a word (and a compliment, in some circles) but I’m with you. My personal go-to is god-fucking-dammit, which is horrible on so many levels that it feels uniquely satisfying. But I may try out granny’s cocksucking-son-of-a-bitch, just for shits and giggles.

      (Oh, Sarah. Will I ever be invited back?)

  7. I had to stop swearing when I realized my baby girl would say anything I said. It was hard because I’d only recently discovered how much I could swear and how comfortable it was. When she was seventeen, I let it loose again. But I try to practice not doing it sometimes for when I’m around people who can’t take it, or in case I get famous and have to go on TV and pretend I don’t cuss.

    I use fuck and shit to punctuate a sentence, like you mentioned. I call guys dicks when I don’t like them, and when I’m angry or I hurt myself, my go to phrase is, “goddamn bloody-fucking piece of shit.” Yes. I’m sure I say it with a hyphen.

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