On My Use Of The F Word

It’s just a word.

—George Carlin

Cindy abhors the F word. I don’t think it’s prudishness on her part, so much as having no desire to unnecessarily  inflict foul language on others. I’m glad she feels this way. She is thoughtful and has good manners. Her good breeding makes up for my coming up short.

I have just enough of breeding to feel uneasy in some situations–in the presence of my Mother-in-law, for example. I do care that she is confident I’m the right kind of guy for her daughter. But I like the word. I really do.

Fuck was originally an acronym. London bobbies, when hauling tarts into the station for booking, would scrawl F-U-C-K across the report, signifying For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Thus, its use as a verb for having sex.

I haven’t used the word in connection with sex since I was fifteen. Neither do most adults I know. The word has a certain muscularity that provides an aggressive tone to a declarative statement like we are so fucked. It has a special meanness when we want to send someone packing: fuck you means do yourself unspeakable harm. It is a fine adjective, as in I’m getting out of this fucking place.

It serves as a noun for something that has no name. When I was a freshman in the Corps  at Texas A&M, it was our responsibility to fuck the sophomores. This did not mean have sex with them. It meant make their lives more miserable than they made ours. One way to fuck them was to Bab-O bomb their room while they slept. To do this and get away with it, we needed a fuck-stick, which was the handle end of a wooden Coke case with a notch cut out of the handle.

At zero dark-thirty, we put a can of Bab-O embedded with a cherry bomb with a lit cigarette stub on the end of the fuse in the middle of a sleeping sophomore’s room. Exiting, we fucked the door, which is done by slipping the fuck-stick over the door knob, locking the fucking sophomore in his fucking room. Making morning formation would be a problem for the sophomore, let alone having his room ready for morning inspection.

Three years in the U.S. Marine Corps further expanded my command of Fspeak, but you get the idea. What I ask myself is why do we find the word to be so awful? We most certainly do, but it is in such common use, we should be over it by now. It appears in most contemporary literature and, of course, movies.

John Goodman’s monologue in the movie The Gambler may be the best example extant of the artful use the word:

Pretty shocking if you’re not used to it. For me, that’s the point. Honestly, I really don’t want polite society to get overly jaded on the word. What’s left to provide shock value?

Long may polite society hate the F word.



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