Without an f it’s nothing. It’s uck. As in ucky… with a scrunched up nose when something smells bad under the kitchen sink. You lean in- hoping it’s just an old mouldy sponge -or something. Then…. right before you half squint/half open your eyes you bargain with some invisible source ‘please let it be the or something’ please …please let it not be a rodent’s carcass… or worse- let me not find the filthy disgusting germ riddled wretched thing only half dead- ….at which point you’ll shriek and simultaneously bang your head on frame of the cabinet before managing to extract yourself out from under the sink in desperate attempt to flee in horror- replaying the reel wherein you found Norman Bates guest starring in your own private revival of Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Yes- you pray and make unrealistic promises like I’ll buy up every bar of chocolate from the scrawny pitiful looking kid standing in front of Duane Reade- overused carton of candy at his side-asking that you help keep kids off drugs. Every single stale bar. Just please let it be the sponge. UCK- sans the f.
But unless you’re the tremendously restrained and/or the controlled sort or a very holy person- chances are- you’ve probably used the word once or twice in your life.
With the F.
One night after dinner I was talking with my young ‘un- who’s at that dangerous- impressionable age. The conversation was peppered with ‘stuff me and my friends like to do’ and a bunch of ‘know what happened today?…’ and then it happened. Amidst all that day’s events about mean girls and perv boys- the talking took another turn. It evolved into a discussion about who says this or who says that and who has THE WORST potty mouth when she accidentally let one fly.
In truth I’m not sure if it was an accident or a test run but either way I let it slide.
I can’t say I was entirely unfazed.
It sounded weird coming out from my own precious angel’s mouth- but she’s newly a teen who’s taking the freedom exploration trail.
I also can’t say I was completely surprised.
In an immediate quick- but to the point- investigation- I asked- this isn’t the first time you’ve used that word- is it?
But I know-realistically I gotta pick my battles-there are far worst things than that nowadays-eh?
Within seconds I was magically transcended back to the summery day and the precise moment I said it for the first time in front of my own mommy dearest. It was during an emotionally charged dialogue in my 1970 something formica-ed kitchen- the kind with the copper Jello molds of fish and birds hanging on the buttercup colored walls….yeah so this was me at the tender age of eleven bursting into my house after being chased around the neighborhood by my older sister wielding a steak knife right after she took a match the pilot light not knowing I had turned gas on seconds before. WHOOSH….the teensiest explosion caused her to lose her eyelashes (thankfully that was all). It was an accident for Christ’s sake!!! I circled round my mother- flailing arms-breathless – tear stained and red faced ‘Tell her to keep her f—–n hands offa me!’
There I said it. It was out before I could clamp my hand over my mouth jailing it inside- where it belonged.
My mother- oblivious the scene that proceded calmly answered ‘Well if you can’t get along don’t play with Kelly anymore’
The voice of reason.
Arghhhhh- she was totally clueless. Forget that I just said a ‘dirty word’- her other daughter was hunting me down- out for blood (maybe/probably ) – brandishing a deadly weapon- madly searching for her target. And there’s my mom saying ‘Play Nice’. She never even mentioned my use of profanity- just turned back to the stove intent on burning us up something for dinner. Unbelievable. I said the f word and got away with it.
It would be several years later before I would include it in conversation with her again.
I revisited that particular day many times. As a parent I knew it was bound to happen sooner or later- my own kid using that word in front of me not the being chased by a killer thing.
Once my daughter confessed she’s used the word- albeit NOT as frequently as some of her friends I was driven to remind her of the conversation we shared the first time she heard the word and reported back to me. She was really small.
The conversation went something like this:
‘I heard someone say _____. Is that a bad word?’
‘It’s neither a good nor a bad word-it’s a special word.’
Then I probably said she would find there will come a time when it’s appropriate to use it. I said it’s not a word you’ll use only when you’re angry…it’s a word that’s said to strongly emphasize something usually. I’m so blankity (f______ing ) happy. I’m so blankity (f_____ing ) excited. I’m so blankity (f_____ing) irritated. See what I mean?
She got it- depsite the fact that she was a real little kid when this talk transpired.
She’s no dummy.
Now I was by no means condoning her using the word
I also am no dummy.
Am I a bad mother?…. I frequently find myself questioning whether I have good parenting skills.
Because I doubt myself I felt compelled to add in the whole ‘you can’t unring a bell’ lecture. (ugh) I told her saying things we don’t mean doesn’t make them unsaid and going about saying certain words comes with consequences…sometimes.
She asked ‘Like the f word?’
‘Like the f word’ I confirmed….’if you can’t get that then you shouldn’t be using it.’ (I think is what I said. )
She nodded in what I perceived to be agreement. Then after a few seconds she said- in her wise beyond her seven years logic-
‘ Y’ know…there are a lot of other words you can use instead of that word.’
‘Uh huh- there are. Give me some examples.’
‘Well there’s hmmmm f f f …oh! fudge… and um… fathead and uh…’ she paused thinking of more alternatives
‘Yes those are good choices also.’
I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing as she starting walking out of the room experimenting I heard her sort of saying to herself ‘fudge’ ‘fatso’ then just before she got out of earshot I hear a tentative voice that seemed to say – let me just try this one out
Yep that works too.