(Spoiler: NSFW language)
When I was 3 years old, I found one of my life’s passions that I would continue to hone and finesse throughout the rest of my days. I was sitting on the counter as my father did the after-dinner dishes and I knew his routine was coming to an end. As he looked up I said to him:
“Let’s get the fuck out of here, Daddy.”
And that precocious, mini-dictator in training discovered two things—people instantly pay attention to you when you speak bluntly, and there is something oh-so-satisfying in a well-timed curse.
You see, I fucking love to swear. I like to stream together complex, anatomically morally ambiguous sentences so blue they make the ocean look pale. And I like to do it wearing pearls, red lips, and a copper curl falling over my eyes. There’s something exceedingly satisfying about looking like a lady, throwing an elaborate home cooked dinner party, and then making a particularly cutting remark about international politicians that make grown men blush. I then smirk and pass the perfectly prepared bechamel sauce.
Ironically, the heart of my love affair with four-letter words clearly hails from a lifetime in Catholic schools. No one knows how to turn a phrase quite like kids who have to hide it and are taught from a very young age that even “heck” (as it is just a stand-in for hell and the intention speaks louder than the word choice) is a bad word. I may never have had my sex, drugs and/or illegal activities phase, but I’ve made up for it in thoroughly exploring the diversity of the word “fuck.” In middle school I remember going to a sleepover (yes, all Catholic school girls) and we sat around in our PJs trying on every curse word we knew. I came home glowing, feeling distinctly naughty, grown-up, and rebellious. Come high school I finally became comfortable saying “Jesus Christ” and felt a thrill whenever I came up with a new variation “on a raft” or “on a cracker.” Every time my Southern Christian mother glared and yelled “DON’T TAKE THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN,” it made me do it all the more. Come college I conquered the grandmother of all curse words after a long discussion on the reappropriation of the word “cunt” in probably my first feminist debate, and felt strangely empowered dropping that bomb.
I wish I could say it’s an emotional evocation to express of pain relief, but that’s patently untrue. Your brain probably doesn’t get much ease in screaming, “Shit, I stubbed my toe!” when five seconds earlier you were likely lamenting about “dick wad pansies with thumbs up their asses.” Though perhaps that’s why my heart is always racing, I keep my amygdala constantly active. I suppose we all need to get our exercise somewhere, and to be the best you’ve got to train. I’ve got steep competition as from what I can tell just walking down any street in the UK, swearing is an innate gift of the British that I can only hope to emulate. After all this is the home of the one and only Malcolm Tucker (absurdly NSFW video below) whose line, “Get the fuck in or fuck the fuck off” will forever be my head canon as to how the 13th Doctor invites companions into the T.A.R.D.I.S. (as both are played by Peter Capaldi).
Theoretically, I should have outgrown it. At the latter half of my 20s there’s no one around who can shame me for my language, no Catholic school threatening hell for it, and while my mother still cringes and lectures, “Pretty girls don’t have ugly mouths” or “Your vocabulary stretches far beyond four letter words,” the enjoyment has yet to wane. I am an adult, I don’t swear in front of children and switch to “Oh my word” instead of “go blow a goat” in front of people whom I know it will offend. I know how to clean up my mouth and say the same thing in overly complex language, and speak professionally and condescendingly without uttering “cocksucker” even once.
My oh-so-salty mouth definitely makes me lose cred in the lady like department, and throws my Southern belle facade for a loop (though not by much, look beneath the veneer of most and you’ll find a woman who can make the proverbial sailor blush), but it always keeps people guessing and makes it impossible to throw me in a box. Besides as soon as someone thinks they have me pegged I’ll switch exclusively to the most pretentious vocabulary I can muster just to keep things interesting. And there I think is the utter enjoyment I take in swearing, I like surprising people, I like being the opposite of what is expected, and more than anything I am a 3-year-old who likes to be perverse.
Besides, if you think I’m bad, you should hear my little sister.
Photo by Gemma Bou