I’ve always loved descriptive language and the more expressive the word the better (expunge, sanguine, visceral). I almost wet myself when as a teenager I first heard comedian George Carlin’s “7 Words you Can Never say on Television” (shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker & tits) which obviously were compiled before the advent of cable TV. It might be difficult for today’s teen or young adult to even imagine how risqué Carlin was for speaking them out loud or how clean our censored television was.
I do also love descriptive words that aren’t nasty or sordid (aerie, bunny, slink, pungent, drizzle). But my heart is in the gutter. In high school, college and grad school, I was at the pinnacle of my poetry writing phase as well as my blabbing my mouth stage and I gloried in using Carlin’s words (sans the -sucker and mother- suffix and prefix). In my life and my writing I made use of so-called profanity as I pleased. So-called, because I think things like poverty, racism and downright meanness is way more profane than descriptive language about body parts and sex acts. But, as usual, I’m digressing…
When I had my first child I was worried I would slip-up and say something to my 2-year old like, “Honey, get in your fucking car seat before Mommy’s shit fit gets real ugly.” But I didn’t. Somehow, all the f-bombs were defused before deto
nation and my scatological riffs were creatively baby-wiped into a whole new use of language (doody, poopy, kaka, stinkies, etc…). Out in the world, toddlers in tow, mama bear that I was, I would ferociously glare at other people as they fuckin’ this fuckin’ that spoke with each other. Just like the ex-cigarette smoker who’s such a pain in the ass to those un-reformed public puffers, my evil eye cast many a hex on cussers when my kids were young.
Well, as the old English saying goes, “What’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.” Now that I’m the mother of teenagers and my youngest is about to go to middle school, I seem to have found the key to my verbal chastity belt. I’ve spent over ten years using euphemisms like “poop” and “a-hole” for perfectly sound words. But now I quit. Once the kids are into double digits all bets are off. I’m not going to suddenly be an asshole in front of my kids, but the other day I did tell my son not to “eff” something up. He knew exactly what I meant, and he kind of rolled his eyes at me. I’m not sure if it was because I said that to him or because he thought I was being ridiculous for saying “eff” instead of just using the word.
How about you? Has your language use changed over time? Gotten cleaner or dirtier?