A Taste of Soap
I like to swear. I don't know why. Neither of my parents are particularly vulgar, and though I knew more than my fair share of truckers and sailors growing up, we didn’t converse on a regular basis. It’s not a conscious effort, and not meant to shock—there’s a certain tipping point for each person at which curse words stop having an effect, and mine was reached around the time that “shit” replaced the majority of my subject pronouns—but it’s more of a natural linguistic pattern, sort of like a lisp, in which sybillant esses are replaced with the word “fuck”.
Though I have my own personal favorites, on the matter of swearing, I have to defer to my beloved George Carlin’s legendary “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”, at least a quarter of which were introduced into the vernacular of various NYC youths during a hot coffee spill on last month’s Take Your Child to Work Day (now renamed Take Your Pill Regularly, Without Fail Day).
Shit- A golden oldie, partly because of its universal applicability to animal waste, but mostly because it rhymes with so goddamn many other things, granting it unlimited lyrical power. If, during the Genesis of Cussing, when the gods were first hammering the dirty words into tablets (replicas available at Spencer’s Gifts), they had chosen “Shorange” instead, I highly doubt it would be as popular. Or shit would be as popular. You see what I mean?
I use this word more often than: I exhale
Piss- Who doesn’t remember that seminal moment in which they officially switched from using the word “ticked” to “pissed”? I couldn’t tell you a single thing that was said at my First Communion, yet the day that I made the conversion to “pissed” stands out firmly in my memory. A banner moment in any young curser’s life, I can’t wait til my own future young ‘un comes toddling up to me at the bar and says “Mommy, the guidance counselor is pissed that you’re setting such a bad example.” Warm my heart, it will.
I use this word more often than: I actually piss
Fuck- The swear word of choice amongst consummate professionals everywhere. Everyone’s read the email forward regarding its various parts of speech and uses, so I won’t bother to rehash its versatility, but the first time I got the email in college, there was a fair amount of head nodding, glass raising, and You-tell-it-brothering going on. I first realized the potential of this word as a very young child, when my mother, taking a page from “Dr. Spock’s Book of Cliché Shit to Distract Your Kids”, put on some ridiculous record of children’s songs sung by a man whose voice makes Tom Waits sound “velvety”. When the “Name Song” finally reached its fifth round, my father looked up from the neuss he was fashioning and said “Let’s do Buck!”, only to get slapped by my mother.
I use this word more often than: “the”
Cunt- There was a great article in GQ a couple of years back about the stigma attached to this word, and how in our hyperverbose and freespeaking society, it was the last front in curse words that still have an impact. Four thousand words later, I remember thinking “Well, it was. Asshole.”
I use this word more often than: I probably should.
Cocksucker- Not bad, but given that 60% (51% female+10%gay-1%lesbian*) of us actually are, or have, or should be, sucking cock, a bit limited in usage, not that it should matter. I’m a big fan of tailoring insults specifically to the person; it’s like a bespoke suit, something that can last for years.
I use this word more often than: I floss
*This last figure is completely made up. Googling “percent lesbians” brings up some less than statistically sound websites)
Motherfucker- Perhaps one of my favorite compound words (rainbow and corndog being the other two), this one enjoyed a brief surge of usage in the early to mid90s thanks to people like Andrew Dice Clay and Quentin Tarantino, bordering on hackneyed. Luckily, by the time I came of age to use it/no longer lived in a town where the fucking of one another’s mothers was a very real possibility, it had built up some cachet again.
I use this word more often than: I call my mother
Tits- I didn’t even know this was a bad word. My Mother’s Day Card is definitely going to need a proofread.
I use this word more often than: My actual tits, from a purely functional perspective.