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Warning: f–bombs ahead…obviously!
The first time I ever used the F word publicly and loudly for the whole world and my mother to hear was when I officially became an adult.
That day, I smoked one cigarette (my first and last) without my mother ever knowing about it, took two sips of whiskey from a friend and spit it out and have never tried it ever again, and I said a big fat fuck you to my friend in a restaurant full of people and my mother…just because I could.
There was so much swagger in me that day. I felt invincible.
Since then, I’ve always had a bit of a potty mouth. I also think that, circa 2021, there’s not nearly as much stigma attached to casual cussing in a social setting like it used to be even a decade back. But I use bad language only with those who’re okay with me using swear words. I also made this stupendous discovery that what’s totally vanilla, tame, and mundane to one person can be absolutely unacceptable to another. Let me give you an example.
A few weeks back, I was going back and forth with my tenant on WhatsApp trying to fix up a time for us to meet up and renew his lease. The guy cancelled on me three times, and all of them were over time periods that he‘d picked. After he cancelled the third time, I messaged him saying, “Dude? What the heck? Just make up your mind, damn it, and show up when you say you will!”
He messaged me back immediately and said, “Madam, please mind your language!”
I was stumped. I had no idea what he was talking about. Mind your language? What did I say? I swear…I went back and looked through all my messages to him and just could not figure out what had gotten his panties in a wad? Finally, I figured out that he was offended by the word “damn it!”
I started laughing when he confirmed that he was mighty offended when I said “damn it.” And then he got offended because I laughed about it. But see, for me, what the fuck, what the hell, goddamnit, damn it, and so on, are now an intrinsic part of my daily conversation (as it is with some of my family and most of my friends).
To me, the fact that there was someone, circa 2021, who is young and was affronted by the word damn it just blew my mind. My tenant also told me that he never ever cusses while, for me, cussing is a part of my being. And I don’t just do it randomly for effect.
I do it because cussing can be cathartic.
Let me explain.
So, back in December 2020, I’d suffered through the worst loss of my life and the grief was so overwhelming that there were days afterward that I could not, did not, want to wake up. Those days run into each other, and I barely remember them except for that one particular day.
It was a few weeks after the tragedy and I physically felt the pain of my loss. It was also a period when I clung to people, and in hindsight, I guess my expectations were high from friends and family. My need to connect with those I was close to was at its highest and one of my closest family members who, instead of being there for me, turned their back on me in ways that I just couldn’t process. I remember being extremely stunned. And hurt.
The hurt gave way to my getting raging mad and angry. I was livid that this person—someone with whom I’d had a close relationship with until then (we don’t speak at all anymore)—was so cruel to me during the worst period in my life. I wanted to yell and scream at said person.
But you know? Maintaining the peace. Decorum. Doing the right thing. These are all the things that you are expected to do if you live in a civilized society. Interesting—no one even questioned this person’s heinous behavior toward me, but if I had retaliated, publicly, everyone and their grandfather would’ve judged me from here to Sunday.
Since I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do (which is to lash out and call said person out and question their behavior), I did the next best thing. I went home, locked all the doors and windows, took a pillow, and stuffed it against my face and screamed every cuss word I ever knew. I screamed and screamed and screamed some more. After five minutes of wishing every bad thing to befall said person, I took the pillow off, and man…did I feel light.
Apart from the many words I used on that pillow (there were words I screamed into that pillow that I didn’t even realize I knew until that moment), the one cuss word I used repeatedly was the F word.
No. Not the cutesie F is for “feminism” or F is for “fight” words.
It’s the good old F is for fuck word.
I used the fuck word like it was going out of style.
Basically, I asked the pillow that represented that heinous human being in my life to fucking take a flying fucking leap off the fucking bridge. And then to top it all, I said fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck over and over and over again. And then again.
And I felt free. And light.
And that’s when it struck me. Even though many of us use varying levels and degrees of cuss words in our day-to-day lives, it’s also something that is typically frowned upon by civilized society. Well, fuck that. No one tells you how cathartic it can be to use swear words. Cussing and using bad language actually took the anger, the vengeance, the feeling of revenge out of me.
Everyone is always telling us to use the right language because words can hurt.
Words can hurt.
But what people don’t say is that people’s behavior and actions hurt more. And when you’re expected to “let go” and “be the bigger person” and “go high when they go low,” the pent-up feelings of hatred simmer deep inside you and they need an outlet. And I found that by using really awful cuss words in the privacy of my home, I was able to take everything that was inside my body and throw it out.
I felt physically light that day.
Comic genius Jerry Seinfeld always says that the best comics are ones who never use swear words. He says that when comics use cuss words to get a laugh…it’s like taking the easy way out.
Maybe we can extrapolate that to our real life and make an argument that using cuss words is taking the easy way out? That it’s being immature and silly? And maybe it is all of that and more.
But, man, oh man. There is such a sense of freedom that comes from using cuss words—especially the F word.
So, Jerry, I just want to say, apart from being cathartic, sometimes, it’s just so much fun to swear. Just fucking try it—sometime!
What do you think? Am I onto something here? Or is this entire article just a way for me to justify having a really bad potty mouth?