…seriously. I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I have a good vocabulary. My mom insisted that we have extensive vocabularies and use them appropriately. I’m a whiz at spelling and usually if someone asks me what a word means, I can come up with the correct definition without running to a dictionary. I’m a bodacious Scrabble and Boggle player. My grasp of language and it’s appropriate use is part of why I’m a terrific copyeditor (I have clients who’ll testify, honest!).
So it surprises me to find that I’m using expletives more frequently as I get older. And I’m not talking about the occasional “crap” or “damn.” I’m talking the real words—the ones that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap when I was a kid. You know, the words from George Carlin’s infamous list. (Google it!)
I’ve never really been a language prude, but I’ve always been someone who disdained “bad words” as language uneducated people used. However, I’ve discovered that often the best word, the very best word I can use in some situations is a bad one. Sometimes people behave like asshats and that’s the only suitable word to use to describe them, so I’ve used it—but always appropriately. I’ve developed serious menopausal short-term memory loss, so shit! pretty much takes care of the frustration of not remembering where I put my damn reading glasses. And sometimes, in the throes of a particularly gnarly hot flash or when my emotions are in a confused knot, I just want to scream FUCK! So I do and it makes me feel better.
As a writer, I’m not proud of this, but as a woman, I’m kind of intrigued with the relief that one good loud FUCK can bring. You know, maybe my language isn’t really deteriorating at all, maybe it’s just getting more colorful—yeah, that’s it! And even though I’ve added profanity to my vocabulary, I’m still not going to apologize to my son for slapping him when, at age fifteen, he used a word that I’d repeatedly asked him not to use in my presence. Sorry, I love you, but you fuckin’ deserved it, kid.