Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Art of Swearing

I have been asked by several people why, since I appear to brag regularly about having a dirty mouth, I never use profanity in my writing. One questioner added that they do not believe that I am, indeed, the skilled potty-mouth I claim to be.

Do you really want to go there, ye of little faith?

I suggest that you call any member of my family or the elderly woman behind me in line when the self-check lane at the supermarket went on the blink (I really aplogize, I didn't see you, I swear). They will all gladly provide sworn affadavits (and possibly police reports) indicating that I do, indeed, travel on the wild side...linguistically speaking.

Though I didn't utter a swear word until I was about 13, I remember where it all started...

Around the corner from my childhood home, lived a pair of somewhat odd twin girls. Judy and Karen, were around 13 when I was eight or nine. We all kind of hung out in a pack and they were frequent loungers on my stoop during the summer months.

Karen told me horrifying stories about brides dying on their wedding days and later being spotted walking around in cemeteries wearing ghostly wedding gowns. She used to scare me out of my mind. Judy took it upon herself to teach me to swear. I was an eager student but I stored the words and their many usages in my brain, not to be used till years later.

The twins disappeared one day. Maybe they moved. Maybe they were incarcerated. Maybe they were figments of our imaginations. But their legacies live on: I'm still worried about ghost brides but will be able to shout obscenities at them if they ever do materialize.

In junior high, I was exposed to a girl named Linda F. (anyone who went to school with me at that time, reading this, will know of whom I speak immediately) who was a true legend of filth. She swore as easily as she breathed and the embers of my own profane future began to softly glow. The moment of ignition was still some time away.

I used a very minor naughty word for the first time at home of all places. Uttering it casually with my mother in the room and expecting her to keel over in horror and banish me to the special hell reserved for unspeakable crimes, my mother--the most proper of women--burst out laughing. She later explained that it was so incongruous that it caught her off guard. Big mistake, Ma.

Somehow I interpreted this as tacit permission and the rest is history.

I tried mightily to curb my mouth when the boys were young but there were countless, daily slip-ups. Especially when driving. I taught them from an early age that bad language was perfectly alright when behind the wheel...and if Mary Poppins or Queen Elizabeth had learned to drive under the the el in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn like I did, they would agree.

Don't worry, I will not embarrass you in public. I am perfectly capable of not letting any whoppers slip and I will be good around your children, pets and grandmas. I do understand the need for discretion and decorum. I just love to swear.

But not in my writing. That may be a generational thing. I don't mind if you do it, but I don't. I also am unhappy with the now established trend of using dirty words in song lyrics. I'm sure the younger generation would laugh at that. But, younger generation, I laugh at you too, so there.

In any case, people, you will not read profanity in my posts but I, and all who know me, will attest to the validity of my claims. I am planning, however, to clean up my mouth....in the next life, suckas!

Until then, I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend. I am taking tomorrow off and will see you all on Monday. Thanks for reading, people. Until then, keep it clean.

7 comments:

  1. Yes, I'm a woman, yes, I'm educated, yes, I'm classy, and yes, I swear.

    I don't do it in professional or religious settings. When I'm with my friends though, especially when I'm impassioned, I'd owe a lot of money to the "Swear Jar."

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  2. There is nothing quite so satisfying as a well-placed swear word... or two :-)

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  3. Katie,You continue to be a woman after my own heart!

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  4. Or six or seven in a row, Janet....

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  5. i'm with janet :)
    i have a potty mouth...but know when and where to use it.
    i try to keep it out of my writing as well...most times :)
    happy easter!

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  6. As a close family member, YES Susan has a spectacular potty mouth. With that said, it is mostly delivered in such a way as to be extremely entertaining. Just saying!

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  7. Atta girl, Bee! And Jen, fancy meeting you here...and thatnks for the er, compliment? Yeah, compliment! XO

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