Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"B" is for Bastard

It is one of my favorite swear words. "You bastard." It is such a cutting two word sentence--precise and penetrating.

Although in my family swearing of any sort was strictly forbidden I grew up to be a foul-mouthed-baboon (as my father would say). Foul-mouthed-baboon is strong speaking for my father.

I remember enduring lectures for saying "I'm pissed off." Pissed off is a toilet-potty-mouth phrase. Despite it being a phrasal verb which means "to be angry" it contains the word "piss" which obviously if used in speech indicates your lack of respect for the listener to the point that you are verbally peeing upon them.

I went off to Girl Scout Camp in Kings Sequoia National Park at the tender age of 9. I had never uttered a curse word before in my life. I was a gosh!-oh my!-gee whiz!-Oh Man!-kind of gal. Till Girl Scout Camp. When my cabin mates discovered just how uncomfortable swearing made me they kept at me relentlessly.

"Say fuck. Go on. Say it. Fuck."

It only took a few days to progress from hesitant barely audible whispered obscenities to swearing like a trooper. "Damn! What the fuck! Where's my. . . you bitch, give me back my towel!" By then, the other girls were still encouraging me to swear because I could do it with such amazing gusto and my delivery skills were something others coveted--the way I could coat my words with scathing sarcasm, irony, or real rage.

When I got off the bus and my Mother asked me how camp was I promptly responded, "Fucking great!"

Which was pretty much the last curse word I uttered until I went off to college.

Now I'm having to face the consequences of speaking strongly--the potty mouth's ultimate curse. My own 9 year old looked me in the face and said, her voice dripping with disdain, "Fuck Off."

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?" I roared at her ( I even called her "young lady") .
"You are not to use the "F" word. Not to anyone and certainly not to your mother!"
She smiled demurely then she said "FFFFFFFFFFFFFFish."

I had to choke back the spontaneous "you smart ass" that rose in my throat and instead sputtered out a strangled, "don't be flippant with me young lady." and was left standing there like an ineffectual baboon.


Donna said...

ahaha! I was never allowed to swear at home either--even things like Oh God! or Jesus! could provoke an admonishment (although certainly no where near as taboo as actual swearing). Somehow as an adult I acquired a profound love of swearing and I really am surprised my children haven't picked it up, in fact my older daughter scolds me--"do you take back that swears, mom?"

Sarah said...

If your mother ever said, "I hope you have a daughter just like you someday", I'm sure those words are coming back to haunt you.

When my oldest daughter was 2-years-old, I said, "Oh My God" over a really nasty diaper of her younger sister. She was actually in a different room, but I heard it eerily repeated back to me in a small voice. It became her favorite thing to say and her timing was so great that people thought she actually meant it. Sure enough, a few months later when we were back in the States for vacation, she said it right in front of the one person I had hoped she wouldn't. It was well-timed, clearly spoken, dripping with attitude and I just wanted to crawl under my chair.

So I learned my lesson and have been more careful since then but my husband has not learned anything and he says crazy stuff while he's driving and even crazier stuff while working on his computer and although I did my best nagging, nothing changed until the day Emi said "omae" to him when she started into a conversation about something. He stopped stone cold and told her she couldn't say that ever again. She didn't know she'd done something wrong, she was just copying what she heard and I gave him my best "I told you so" smile over the top of her head!

I love being right!

coarse gold girl said...


God/Jesus were words that above all my parent's forbade us to use as swear/curse words. To this day, my mother and father wince whenever they hear those words outside of the church. I have to confess, that here in Japan, it really bothers me when I hear school aged Japanese kids scream "Oh God!". . . although I know that it has become common usage in English to use the word as an explicative and certianly non Christians use it frequently referring to anything but the Christian diety as do many Christians! Wish my kids took after your daughter! Instead (wince) they seem to have a knack for expressing themselves, um colorfully like their mama. . .


I think you hit on a big issue for wives of Japanese--our native curse words may be powerful to us but to our husbands. . . it is really hard to convince a husband that certain words should just be taboo, and certainly NOT for childrens ears when they just don't pack the same punch for him because they are in a second language for him. I remember the first time Reno snarled "omae" or "urusai baka" at her Daddy too! And why is it that no matter HOW many times I go over the word with him, DH just doesn't get it that saying "shut up" in English isn't nice?