I Swear I Will

I love swearing. It genuinely thrills me. It helps me emote aggression, joy, sadness, anger. It was not always so; my parents raised my sister and me to say please and thank you…and when I heard my older sister say: shut up, Margaret, I defiantly and experimentally used the phrase on my mother one Sunday morning before church. She was facing the sink, asked me something, and I told my very own mother to shut up. She deftly spun around on her heels and without me realizing what was happening, her hand was imprinted on my cheek for a good 2 hours. Which was (in my estimation and opinion) completely warranted.

I swore occasionally throughout high school with friends…and when I was a legal adult (all of 18) my friend and I were practicing a dance we made up (I know. I can’t. Even.) in my family’s den, my mother reading in a chair. Mid way through said routine, I messed up a step, and exclaimed: FUCK!

My mother looked up from her, book, eyes smoldering with anger and fury, slammed the book shut and STOOOORRRRMED off to the porch. About an hour later, I meekly entered her room of disdain and said Mom, I’m sorry…I…it just…came out. Her response? (And, as I’m writing this, I’m giggling in disbelief) I just didn’t think I raised my daughters to speak like that. To which I sarcastically giggled and exclaimed: have YOU ever said that word? My mother then erupted, as if the depths of hell and heaven conspired together, and her voice managed to drop, like, 70 octaves to rumble out: THAT’S NOT THE POINT, MARGARET. As I recall, she didn’t speak to me for about 2 days thereafter.

From then on, various phrases crept into my everyday vernacular. Tripping up or down stairs: Shit! Stubbing my toe: Goddamn it! Math equations I didn’t understand: What the shit?

I do think because I was practically forbidden to swear growing up, it serves as a current form of release.

I have been reprimanded, criticized and demeaned for my use of profanity. You know what I say to that?

Fuck that.

I am educated, creative, positive. If you asked me right now to recite Shakespeare, I could. If you asked me why I love Charles Dickens and John Irving so much, I would tell you. And you know what? It still doesn’t change one fact: I can use whatever language I so choose. And whatever condescending bullshit I receive masked as kind advice to curb my language only propels me further. It only makes me feel a deeper commitment to use whatever language I feel I must to express my thoughts and emotions. You know why? Because I can. And I will. It’s each person’s prerogative (at least in non-3rd world countries) to voice their opinion in which ever way they deem most appropriate and not fear punishment. I exercise that right to the fullest extent.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to tell some kid to shut the fuck up if they’re screaming next to me on the subway. (Though I do imagine doing it sometimes…but then the image of the mother mauling me appears in my head and I choose to just turn my music up louder.)

I consider language a privilege, a shield, a weapon, a tool. I’ve earned my right to execute sentences (verbal and written) in whatever manner I choose. I’m glad I was taught to understand the value of words.

Just whatever you do, for fuck’s sake: don’t say shut up to your mother.

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