Sunday, December 31, 2006

"You kiss your mama with that mouth?"

Why, yes. Yes I do. Who do you think taught me the filthiest words I know?

I grew up in a house where no words were forbidden. (Well, that’s not exactly true: the “n” word was absolutely banned. To this day, I can’t even read that word without flinching.) Any and all swear words were tossed about on a regular basis by both of my parents, my sister, and myself.

My parents’ philosophy made perfect sense to me then, and it still does. There’s no such thing as a “bad word.” Words are words, plain and simple. It’s how you use them that gives words power. So no one batted an eyelash when four-year-old me stubbed her toe and let fly with, “GODDAMN IT, THAT HURTS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER!” But when four-year-old me called someone an asshole? That was serious trouble.

Those who disapprove of colorful language like to trot out the old saw that people who swear do so because they have poor vocabularies and no imagination. If you think this is true, I invite you to join my father for dinner sometime. No meal at the Mr. Crazy Senior household has ever been enjoyed without the Oxford English Dictionary being hauled out and consulted at least once. And try engaging my dad in a friendly game of Scrabble sometime: he plays for blood.

As for my mother, I have her to thank for my huge repertoire of dirty songs and poems. Here’s a little number we enjoyed belting out while hiking:

There once was a hermit named Dave
Who kept a dead whore in his cave.
When asked, “Does it stink?”
He said, “Yes, but think
Of all of the money I’ll save.”

There once was a man from Nanteen
Who invented a fucking machine.
But on the first stroke
The damn machine broke
And whipped up his balls to a cream.

There are several more verses, but you get the picture.

I wish I could have the same devil-may-care attitude about my own children swearing, but the sad truth is I’m very uptight about it. With my sewer mouth, you’d think my kids would cuss like a couple of sailors. But somehow I managed to clean up my act, and neither JJ nor The Peanut knows a single curse word. Not because I give a crap if they swear, but because I care too much about what other people think. I would be mortified if JJ’s preschool teacher had to call me in for a conference about his foul language. My mother? She wouldn’t have cared at all. On the way home, she would have explained that some people have sticks up their asses and we have to watch what we say around them or they freak out. Then she would have laughed and stopped off for ice cream.

I tell myself that once the kids are old enough to know when and where it’s okay to curse, I’ll let it all hang out. I hope this is the case. My parents may have fucked me up in other ways, but I’ll always thank them for teaching me to love all kinds of words.


Beard said...

My parents were the same way. I have one foot in "I care" but mostly I don't. It's a bit for hub since my parents are around all the time and he is clearly out-numbered in the caring dept. But he has my foot.

I'm actually commenting to ask you for the rest of the lyrics to your mom's song?

happygal said...

No swear words were spoken in my house growing up. Not ever. Also, no one EVER farted. (really)

As a result, part of my teenage rebellion was to unleash a steady stream of sailor-speak at every opportunity (which actually sounds tame to me now) but acheived the desired affect of turning my mother's skin a wonderful shade of purple.

It's not so cool though when M says things like "Mommy, what's a whore?" Unfortunately, the genie's out of the bottle. We try so hard to be good but they're gonna pick it up. I just wish it wasn't at age four....

Green said...

My mother was, and still to this day is, way too uptight about it all. I didn't really curse in front of them until I was 11 or so. When I was a little kid, I learned how to give the finger and proudly showed my mom - she promptly said, "Go show Daddy!" and I had no idea it was a bad thing.

But to this day my mother will interrupt if I'm telling a story that involves my saying "...and I told her that was bullshit" to tell me she doesn't want to hear that kind of language.

Student Nurse Jack said...

My dad swore (still does) all the time, my mom rarely. And they didn't allow us to when we lived at home. It still makes me laugh when I hear my mom drop the rare F-bomb.

I curse way too much and want to rein it in, because I'm afraid I'll slip and say something inappropriate when I drop something in a patient's room, for example. I know the kids hear me although I try not to curse around them, and they certainly hear it at school. My thinking is that if I make it less of an 'offense' as it was when I was a kid, the use of colorful language won't be as tempting. Or I could just be full of shit.

patti said...

People who get all pompous about profanity and try to insist that it shows a limited intellect clearly have never read a book or seen a film or play. Those people collectively comprise one of my biggest peeves. Fuckers.