Thursday, April 7, 2011

What can I say? I've got a f*cking foul mouth

A Mother Life

I do. My mother never saw the need to clean up her language around me, on the grounds that I knew which words I wasn't to say and that I feared her swift and brutal retribution enough not to say them. She was right, for the most part. But as I grew older – into my preteens and teens – I started using the bad words behind her back. Every kid does, I guess. Inevitably, I slipped up and cursed in front of my mother one day.

I was about twelve. We were standing at the register in a shop, completing our transaction. My mother was talking to the saleslady about the price of something we were buying – it was on special promotion. I chimed in with, “Yeah, that's a helluva good deal.”

As soon as I said it, I realized what I had said and went deathly silent. My mother cocked her eyebrow at me, but didn't say anything.

I looked at my feet and, probably, blushed.

The saleslady said, “Oh, everyone slips up sometimes.” She tipped me a wink.

My mother said, “Well, at least that one's in the Bible.” The saleslady laughed. Later, my mother informed me that I could use any words that I wanted, as long as they appeared in the Bible. Before long, I was more intimate with the Good Book than she was.

But I didn't stop cursing. As I grew older, it got worse, especially since my mother eventually dropped the Bible rule and decided that if I was old enough to drive a car and go to work, I was old enough to shout, “Sh*t f*cking wh*rec*nt!” when I stubbed my toe. My mother has a notoriously foul mouth, anyway, so we probably just started thriving on each other's profanity at some point.

From time to time, I get reprimanded for having a f*cking foul mouth. Once, when I was just gone 21 and living in Paris, one of the other American girls at my school pulled me aside and gave me a full-on lecture.

“Why do you think every other word out of your mouth has to be a curse word? My mother certainly didn't raise me that way.”

“Well, mine obviously did.” For some reason, when strangers criticize my behavior, they always try to drag my mother into it. People who know my mother would keep their freaking mouths shut, because they know how she'd react to such a thing.

Let me give you a hint. -- Cloned Milkmen

The girl frowned. She was one of those girls who wears makeup every single day and puts on high-heeled shoes with her blue jeans. Every single day.

“It doesn't make you sound tough, or cool, or smart,” she went on, obviously sticking to a script of some kind.

I shrugged. “I never really thought about it,” I said. “Everyone I know cusses a lot. You think I'm bad, you should hear my grandmother.”

The girl frowned even deeper and went on, “It's not funny or cute. It's just crude and disgusting.”

“What the f*ck is it to you, anyway?”

She didn't like that very much. She got up and stormed off in a huff, no doubt to tell the other girls all about it.

While I didn't appreciate her meddling, it did give me food for thought. Maybe I ought to tone it down a bit, I thought, if people are getting upset. So, I've tried to tone it down a bit.

But, it's hard to stop doing something you've been doing all your life. And I have been doing it literally all my life. My parents were progressive types. They insisted I call them by their first names and brought me up without Santa Claus. When I was a baby, they didn't think much of using foul language around me. Apparently, they thought that, since I was too young to understand, it wouldn't matter.

As a result, my very first words were “Oh, shit!”

I'm told I'd dropped my ice cream cone.

Pictured: A foul-mouthed baby, and the man responsible.