My childhood was filled with wonderful experiences. Yes, I was an asshole, but I was a lucky one with involved parents who read to me every night, made holidays and birthdays magical, and they always made it a point to take us on trips whenever possible. My parents also taught me how to be a decent human being. Part of their parenting included teaching us manners, etiquette, and decorum.
A huge part of decorum is knowing when and how to use “bad” words. Especially ‘fuck’.
Knowing this is an important part of being a decent human being.
Growing up in an era where car seats were optional, and spanking your child wasn’t deemed child abuse, hearing adults say, “Dammit, I locked the shitting keys in the car again!” or “Shit! I burned the Hamburger Helper!” was old news.
It wasn’t a big deal, because we were taught that those were adult words, reserved only for adults when they stubbed their toes, lost their garage door opener, or got a snag in their two-shades-darker pantyhose.
My parents never cussed at us, only cussed when appropriate-as in not in the middle of a Ross, and never once did I ever hear the mother of all cuss words-fuck.
That word was just too naughty for the late 80’s and early 90’s.
It was a time of innocence. I think the first bad word I ever said was when I was five and it was ‘stupid’. I felt guilty until I was at least 10.
It was always a mystery where I got my salty-bastard-mouth, as I just don’t recall my childhood being filled with foul-mouthed moments.
The mystery has been solved, though, folks!
The propensity for using bad language is genetic.
My mom has a saltier mouth than me.
In the last few years, as the aches and pains of growing elderly have set in, my mom has replaced her ‘dammits’ with ‘fuck me’s’.
It’s practically her favorite word.
It’s almost embarrassing.
She looks more like a teacher than I do, with her holiday-themed pins and crocheted vests. Yet, behind the sweet-matchy-pants-set-facade, she’s a true salty bastard to the core.
My mom was a real trooper, a true wonder for being able to never use ‘fuck’ in front of us when we were growing up (as a teacher, I know how hard it is to refrain from screaming, “What the actual fuck?!” on those really bad days).
The very first time I heard my mom say ‘fuck’ was right before we almost died.
When I was 15.
When I had my learner’s permit.
When my mom let me drive home from Marshall’s.
She guided me on one of her “long cuts” (she swears they are short cuts, but they are in fact, a ruse to go on a longer car ride) through Midtown.
Everything was going splendidly until I didn’t see the boat of a car that just motored on through the stop sign. My mom was struck momentarily mute from the realization that she was most certainly going to die, and the last thing she’d hear is her daughter’s tone deaf sing along to Britney Spears.
Her wild seizure-like hand gestures eventually led way to her renewed ability to speak and this is what she said:
“Put on the breaks! Break! Break! You’re going to hit that fucking ocean liner! Fucking break!”
I was positively appalled. Never mind the fact that we had almost died, my mom had said the big one.
I don’t think you truly know your parents as adults, though, until you hear them say ‘fuck‘.
The other day, my mom, aunt, and I were discussing my darling mother’s use of her favorite word (it might have been an intervention) and she was adamant that she has been using much less ‘fucks’ lately.
She spent most of this past summer with the littles in our family at the cabin on Coeur’d’Alene Lake in Idaho. She obviously knew she’d have to watch her mouth, and she swore that she was practically cured.
She proudly announced, “After this summer, I was practically ‘fuck’ free!”
Despite the natural way the naughty word flows from my mother’s mouth, she’s always incredibly appalled and almost surprised when it comes out.
So, at the end of our intervention, she said, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to rein in the fucks again!”
I think there’s very little hope.