I still remember the very first bad word I ever said.
I think I was in third grade. I lived at 15 Centre Hill in Petersburg, Virginia. I was hanging out in the refrigerator as kids do, and I had dropped the mustard.
“Shit,” I said.
Then I ducked. Because I thought that perhaps a punishing bolt of lightening my come from God and totally SMITE ME TO DEATH.
And when nothing happened? I said it again. “Shit. Shit. Shit.”
And a motherfucking potty mouth was born.
Son, you come from a long line of cussin’. I come by it honest.
If you say something to my father that he don’t like? He smirks in slow motion, sends an eyebrow toward his hairline and says “eeeeeiyihshiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit."
Translation? ‘I have been forced to call bullshit upon your words. Also, what you are saying is so preposterous that I have turned French.’
Your dad yells FUCK so forcefully that it sounds like a tennis ball being popped - FOCK!
But we have to clean it up, because you are beginning to repeat us. And the phrases you like are the ones that sound fun. Like when mommy says, "I don’t give a FUUUUUUUUUUCK … them layouts better be on my desk or I’m gonna wear your intestines as a headband.”
I am fully aware that I wring alllll the juice out of the U in the word 'fuck.’
I also like violent hyperbole. I’m gonna be a ball at the PTA.
But your father and I are cleaning up our act. Or at least trying to. Mostly, we are good at pointing out the other one’s short comings in that area. Derrick? Did you just say, “Put your turn signal on, you CON-try (country) ass, triple-dip, big head, cornflake eatin’ baboon?”
I will know who is at fault if we fail and you let loose with some colorful language at school. Our cursing patterns are distinct. If you get particularly emotional in science class and say, “Did you see what that motherfucker did to that control group? HE SMOKED THAT ASS! REWIND DAT SHIT!” I know that your dad was ready for some football and you were listening.
If you smile and playfully tell your friend that they can kiss the pleats of your ass? That’s probably from me.
The thing about curse words is that they can be so delightfully colorful! Or spewing them, one after another, until they pile up like bricks, can make you feel invincible. Or saying them loudly at the mall can make you feel rebellious and grown up. YOU KNOW MY MAMA DON’T WANT ME TALKING LIKE THIS! BUT I DO IT ANYWAY BECAUSE I’M NAUGHTY. I’M A BAD MOTHERFUCKER.
When she isn’t around.
But I get it. Cussin’ in public can make you feel like a badass. And to your friends? The front works. But to adults? It is the sure mark of a child. An immature, ill-raised one, trying so very hard to look grown. But saying NAH, FUCK DAT SON in front of an old lady in the Piggly Wiggly does not make you grown.
The mark of an adult is knowing that you are free to cuss up a blue streak, but secure enough to know you don’t need to.
I don’t say them in front of my mother, any of your grandparents. Just doesn’t seem right. At work, where I am a bit more bombastic and aggressive, you’ll hear GOT-DAMN IT AMY I ALMOST DRANK SOME JANK-ASS DECAF!
Hey, that’s my creative process.
If you drop the mustard, and I’m sure you will, know that these words aren’t 'bad.’ They can be crass. They can be a lazy verbal shortcut. They can take all the air out of the room. They can be hilarious. They can make you seem immature or uneducated. They can make somebody back up off you.
They are words. Use them wisely.
But never use them in front of me or I’ll bite your gol-dern toes off.
And uh, sorry mom.