How did it get out? It was surely the decade of the ‘90’s wherein the momentum had become unstoppable. First men used it freely. Then women who wanted to be noticed for their unassailable “freshness”. I’m here, get me. . modern girl. Their well-mannered sisters, such as I, lengthened their steps away from such pollution. “Never that word, not us.” Actors would use the word like new toothpaste, filling their mouths with it. You’d hear it coming from the monitors high up on the walls of cheesy video stores, sounding out of context to your own thoughts, much like an unexpected burp in church. Boys growing facial hair had a fondness for such language. Those of us who kept holding out wouldn’t even consider it “language”. And again actors, those Eighth Avenue Actors Studio style actors, would use it incessantly in double D movies when they were given license to improvise. I knew the word was going to take hold everywhere . . . but it would not flow from my lips, not in public. In private, I do swear, rather liberally—when dropping bobby pins, or when all four windows of the car are rolled up and someone cuts me off. I can’t break that habit, though I’ve tried. “It” always slips out before I can do anything about “it”. I apologize quickly, to no one in particular. Trouble is, swearing in the moment just feels good.
I never remember my parents using the F. . . word. Not even my dad, not ever. And he was a Second World War fella. Don’t tell me those guys said it! When I see films with modern actors spouting modern dialog during that era, I immediately know the director doesn’t know his stuff. In my mind, not knowing your social history is a turn off. English film makers don’t make that mistake. At least not as often. Back to my mother and dad. Even when it was hush-hush, the-kids-won’t-hear-it dialogue, even when mother had had a martini, though not more than one, or dad would lose his temper, “it” never happened, that four letter word. Never. Even darn or damn was quite out of order. And the F… word was certainly held back, kept enthroned for the pleasure of the good act itself. Not debilitated in loose talk, diluted of its magnificence. It just didn’t belong to lesser mortal acts. How dare they, I thought, deflate it from its primal mighty place. Those plebeians, hard at work deflating the only good sin. I’ll never be one of them, never! Well . . . until I listened around and realized . . . I had started scattering these precious pearls, reversing meaning, dulling the reverence of the favorite unspoken word.
I had fallen. I was tainted like the others, pushed into saying something I didn’t mean, didn’t like hearing, and that branded me as accepting the status quo. In private conversations I began using it for the most emphatic attack, as a further thrust to my aggression. Using it in that mean, dumb way was like graffiti on the Statute of Liberty, noise pollution at the Grand Canyon. Some things I wanted kept sacred, though they no longer were. The word has become a slap in the face to our ardent values, become somebody else’s dirty language laundry. I just wanted it to mean something. Was my desired verbal primness just a virgin’s curse, a little like tidiness and cleanliness?
Should I let silence be my protest? Or do I say F . . . It and do my best to stay modern, to keep up with the rest?