Profanity. We all have heard it. And at one time or another, most of us have used it. Some of us more than others. Curse words get used as nouns, verbs, adjectives, interjections. They are inserted in the middle of words, like unfuckingbelievable, and can convey various emotions, from anger to excitement to awe. It seems the occasional fuck, shit, cock or bitch can serve a useful purpose in certain situations.
As Stephanie Hayes reporting for the Atlantic Magazine writes, taboo words convey emotional information more effectively than their tamer equivalents. We can use them to vent anger without getting physical. Swearing can help us endure pain for longer periods than we can when uttering things like yikes or Christ! Although "the Lord's name" doubles as a more modest form of cussing itself. If you can insert the strategic swear word into witty banter, it can create bonding and boost morale, but if you swear too much, it loses its effects, and swearing in formal settings smacks of incompetence. While using the mild expletive in speeches and arguments can sway the sympathetic listener.
Which is probably why I told my mother the other day to "get the fuck out of my face." We were arguing. A friend of hers broke the news of her pregnancy and forthcoming marriage and my mother got all excited and wanted to share the news with me. I was offended. The friend in question has no business getting married. Her on-again, off-again relationship with her now fiancé has been volatile, untrustworthy, and littered with infidelities. And being a product of a broken home with a very conflicted relationship with her own mother really gives her no business to bring forth new life. You have to submit a resume to get work as a janitor, and yet any fuck-up can have a kid. Crazy! Crazier still, this woman I'm supposed to call my mother is encouraging the craziness. She should be ashamed of herself. It's like driving a person off a cliff and parachuting out the moment the car bursts into flames. She should be the more mature party. Her own marriage ended in bitter divorce. Hopeless.
Worse still, the woman did the same thing to me when I was 21, getting all enthusiastic about a girl I was seeing, doing our astrology, arranging our engagement, predicting our wedding. I got cold feet and we broke up. Luckily, because the girl went on to have a child out of wedlock and then become estranged from the father, marry another guy only to divorce, a year later, and is currently on her second husband, or maybe her third I'm not sure. Had I followed my mother's advice to wed this girl, or allowed myself to get swept up in the excitement she generated to let my heart lead me in a direction my head said not to go, I'd be divorced myself, with or without an estranged child. And bitterly resentful.
Some of this resentment I conveyed to my mother, who called me distorted and then said maybe I should move out. The bitch. When I was a kid, if a girlfriend said something I didn't like, I'd often say, Maybe we should just break up. Now I know where I get it from. As a young child I probably watched my parents argue (when they thought I wasn't listening, because I was too young to speak) and probably watched my mother threaten break up when things weren't going her way. Because she does this sort of thing a lot. It is a form of despotism to threaten separation the moment you hear something you don't like. It shuts down lines of communication, which is the death of any harmonious relationship.
My mother doesn't fight fair, which in a woman over 70 is pure ignorance. And so I uttered the expletive in question. I told her she was invading my space and to back the fuck away and shut the fuck up. I called her insane. You have screws loose, I said. (A little below the belt: I could have said your views are insane, not you, but anyway.) And I went on: Your priorities are all mixed up! Just because a person wants something doesn't mean you should encourage their getting it. If I wanted to slit my wrists would you discuss the pros and cons of such action or would you hand me the razor? I don't relate to you at all. How I sprung from your godforsaken loins is beyond me, you stranger. (Okay, I didn't say godforsaken, but it does have a ring to it.) And yet, I'm the product of your upbringing, so deal with the monster you created, if that's what you think I am. You have so many mirrors in this house, you wannabe Marilyn Monroe, here's a living breathing one. Stare at me and see what you truly are! I ended with something to the effect of "If I move out trust that I will never speak to you again."
Sometimes you have to communicate at another person's level, even if it means taking it down a notch, and one good threat sometimes deserves another. That's not profanity, but it's in the same ballpark. Maybe I should move the fuck out. And yet, if I do leave my mother home alone with metastatic cancer and half a colon, I'm the fucking bad guy. Talk about caught between a cock and a hard place. Okay now that's just being gratuitous. #ineedhelp