Friday, June 30
I think I say "fuck" too much. I blame my parents.

When I started kindergarten, they gave me a talk about places where it was not appropriate to say "fuck" (e.g. kindergarten). Given that I was five years old and had not been watching cable, it seems pretty clear that this was the kind of problem that people bring on themselves. I won't even get into what they named a toy belonging to my sister, but I will say that it was pretty embarrassing when she repeated it in front of an elderly relative.

Some time later, I went off to college. I came back from my freshman year swearing even more than I had before--I think it was some kind of rite of passage deal where you swear a lot to demonstrate that you're Your Own Woman. All my friends were doing it. (Some of my friends also started talking like South Park characters. Peer pressure is a terrible thing.) Unfortunately, in order for me to say "fuck" appreciably more than I'd been saying it before, I basically had to make it every third word of every utterance. I was a liberal arts badass.

Eventually, I toned it back down, but as noted, I wasn't really starting from a normative point on the swearing scale. I still tend to bring it out to express the mildest of affect.

I think the real problem is that my default setting is to say "fuck" a lot. Some people are categorized as People in Front of Whom I Should Not Say "Fuck"--some by general role (priests, kindergarten teachers--I am not so great about remembering this in front of actual kindergarten students) and others by relationship (my grandmother, potential employers). But until I have placed someone in the no-fuck category, I tend to keep saying it. This leads to a lot of after-the-fact reflection along the lines of Fuck! I shouldn't have said 'fuck' that many times in a row to him! He probably thinks I'm a fucking savage!

To make matters worse, I don't think there are reliable linguistic norms on the subject in my field. Okay, so probably you can't go wrong NOT saying "fuck." But it's a lot of stress trying to remember not to, and I have other matters stressing me out plenty.

But I am past the age where anyone is likely to sit me down to have a talk about it, so the lingering fear is: is it worse than I think? Are people talking about me? Do they huddle in the hallways when I'm not around and remark on my lack of breeding? Would it be okay if I was an ecologist? Fuck.

4 comments:

Clear said...

So, here, we are off to a good start.

Turquoise Stuff said...

Wow, this post totally applies to me as well. Sort of. For the most part.

It seems to me that not all of this is on you. It sounds like your parents started you off on this path, and then it's hard to turn back. (Or perhaps I misunderstood the story.) The thing is, what if you know your parenst are not the ones responsible for this? Mine don't ever swear. So where did I pick it up? I have absolutely no idea why I swear as much as I do. I swear way more than most of my friends. Or that's how I perceive it in any case. Also, I'm not as good as you seem to be about leaving the swear-words off of conversations with People in Front of Whom I Should Not Say "Fuck". I'm still working on that. (Well, I guess one exception were my grandparents. I was good with them.)

You raise a particularly good question at the end.:) Are there fields in which this behavior may be more acceptible than others? How did I not end up in one of those fields?

Cerise said...

Turquoise: I should note that my ability to control when I say "fuck" erodes with my alcohol intake, making departmental receptions a little iffy.

And yes, you would think that we could have gravitated to fields where this would be a non-issue. I made damn sure I didn't end up in one that required me to wear a suit, after all.

Turquoise Stuff said...

Hmmm.. I will swear relatively freely without any alcohol in my system so I don't have that excuse. Damn.

I've been thinking more about what types of people may be on the People In Front Of Whom I Should Not Say "Fuck" list. To be sure, a certain category of people have most likely never heard me swear. For example, if I was at a dinner with top administrators from my school, it is highly likely that I could control myself independent of the alcohol variable. I guess that's good to know.

But yeah, my friends, they just tolerate my style I guess, whatever the reason.