When I was a kid, I recall being not only easily impressed, but incredibly easy to fool with false knowledge. For example, when I was in Kindergarten, I overheard someone say that boys pee yellow and girls pee white, so when I went to the bathroom that night after drinking a big glass of milk and had clear urine in the toilet, I cried at the thought of being a girl.
For like an hour.
This is one of a couple distinct memories about how words have affected my life in my younger, actually cute and adorable years (because now, instead of cute, I’m sexy and in shape and photogenic and totally not sitting in the corner of my dorm room counting Pokémon cards and eating Skittles to take away the pain of…UHM I MEAN ME LOOKING SEXYFINE YES). The other one, the main focus of this post, is a bit more prominent.
Let me first start this by saying one thing. The concept of the English Language is fascinating to me. I love clever wordplay, creative writing, and I grin larger than anyone when a terrible pun is made. That’s one reason why my blog posts are so…WORDY.
Hey now, I may be the only one laughing at that, but dammit, that’s good enough for me.
Speaking of damning (always a happy subject), one of the most interesting concepts of the English language is the idea behind profane and offensive words. I’m constantly curious why someone can cringe like the second holocaust at the f-bomb, while other people can be so indifferent to even the dirtiest and most offensive of words.
Remember when it was practically a crime to say the word “stupid?” When you were five or six, it seemed like the biggest insult in the world would be to call someone stupid, and eventually even THAT was topped by the evil, truly dastardly “butthead.”
People with a problem with censorship, this is where you begin. These buckos need to be stopped immediately before THAT event happens. And by THAT event, I mean the first official swear word that a child learns.
I still remember mine vividly. The word was shit.
It was a brisk Nebraska winter day, and I had just gotten the green light to go out and play with my friend and neighbor in the relative cold.
I say relative because today’s high here at NMU is 20, which is insanely warm for us, and I’m pretty sure that’s a common low temp in a Nebraska January day.
The two of us sat outside in the snow, playing as little children do.
I also remember there being a tree. It had no significance to the story whatsoever, but I do recall there being a tree.
It was then that my friend turned to me, with the most serious of an expression as he, as a young child, could possibly muster.
Worse? Worse than stupid? Clearly that word couldn’t possibly exist. That would be impossible…there was no way there could possibly be a more offensive word. But despite all the constant reassuring that I could say, I was (not too surprisingly) deeply intrigued at the possibility.
His eyes narrowed, and his small eyes grew smaller. His pupils shifted from left to right as he scanned the horizon for any adult who could stop him. There were none.
He leaned in close.
Just a tad closer.
He took a breath, then whispered the word quietly.
My eyes widened. A deep, wonderful power rose up inside of me. It warmed my stomach and burned in my brain. I felt strong. Old. Powerful. It was intoxicating.
He stopped me mid-curse. “Stop! We’ll get in trouble if my mom and dad hear us!”
Of course. How silly of me. If I had said that word in front of an adult, I would have gotten into massive trouble.
Oh no, much worse. I would have had no dessert. And that is a fate truly worse than soap poisoning.
As time wore on, I grew up. I moved to Minnesota. And as I aged (like the best of all cheeses), I learned more and more naughty words. Beautiful specimens like bitch, slut, and the ever-lovely Douchebag. And now, looking back, it seems that as children learn these words, they go through a very common pattern.
It all starts at about a kid’s fifth or sixth birthday. I call this the “learning” stage. This is the part where the kids learn the words. As they go through their elementary school years, they begin to hear these majestic words from movies, parental slip-ups, and the whispers of those kids who were so cool, their bedtime was after 9 PM. The children start to crave the knowledge that these words exist, yet are still to terrified to use them.
But eventually, the power of profanity rises to a point of critical mass, and the child, now in about ten or twelve years old drops it. Not just a word. The word. The big one. The queen-mother of dirty words. The Eff-dash-dash-dash word.
You know, fudge.
And the Christmas Story references just keep on coming.
Either way, the child drops the big F-bomb, and it’s this single spark that pushes the child from stage one to stage two. Stage two is what I like to call the “testing the waters” stage. If you’ve ever listened to how a preteen talks, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
It is among the funniest, most adorable, and profoundly profane things I have ever witnessed. But unfortunately, as the preteen turns into a teen, this phase quickly ends and is replaced by the third stage, which I call the “I don’t give no fu—furniture about anything.” These teenage examples of badassery don’t give no fu—furniture about what they say or do…
…until a teacher or other member of authority is near. This promptly turns the young adolescent into something representing a strawberry.
But sometime around the end of high school, the child will go into two variations of the final stage, what I like to call the “mature” stage. This can refer to one of two things. It could be a) the dialogue from the person is equal to that of an M-rated video game (M for Mature, GEDDIT? Okay I’m not funny), or…
You can probably guess which one I’m in.
You filthy sack of poop.