I have a temper that’s mostly irrational and entirely inherited from my father. Which isn’t to say my mom hasn’t got a mouth on her, but I’m all short fuses and long strings of curse words directed at ovens/computers/motor vehicles, marketing campaigns, and my husband running the goddamned vacuum at ten to midnight.
My dirty mouth is not attractive, and is the kind that’s only entertaining in novels. But it’s important. I can’t take my ire seriously without it. And I didn’t swear, not one word willfully, until I read Inherit the Wind.
DRUMMOND. I’m sorry if I offend you. But I don’t swear just for the hell of it. You see, I figure that language is a poor enough means of communication as it is. So we ought to use all the words we’ve got. Besides, there are damned few words that everybody understands.
I remember citing this play as evidence to my friends in high school, who’d presumably read the same book in the same English class or at least enough to get by, but who likely didn’t need the rationale I did to revel in bad words. Perhaps they hadn’t let something slip at nine years old without meaning to during a particularly intense game of Super Mario Bros., or perhaps they had but hadn’t spend the next hour hiding in the laundry room for fear their little brother would tattle on them to mom and dad. Maybe they didn’t grin when late for class one morning and elbow deep in discarded homework at the bottom of their locker, they repeated ‘shit’ over and over again, rolling the word between tongue and cheek and lips like a dirty pinball.
I toyed with words, all words, because I could. I liked telling people that ‘fuck’ was one of the few true English infixes, and demonstrating just how versatile an utterance it could be. As a girl, cursing gave me an edge I mostly imagined, but whose novelty provided the very best of outlets for my rage against maddeningly dull teenage boys and government teachers (and let’s be honest, machines). (My teenage love affair with RATM and Zack de la Rocha is another blog entirely). As a woman, I’m a little more sensitive, a little more secret, but there are few things that feel better than swearing when I’m hoppin’ mad.
But I still won’t curse in front of my parents.