Swear Words

I was born with the mouth of a sailor, even before I knew words worse than “crap.” (Yes, we weren’t allowed to say that in my home growing up. I still don’t. I say “shit.”)

Anyway, I remember three awkward-in-retrospect instances when I just didn’t know any better. While shopping at Home Depot with my parents, I loudly began begging them for a pussy. “Don’t say that word!” my mother exclaimed without explaining why. Can you imagine the shoppers at Home Depot who overhead this little boy in penny loafers, socks pulled up to his knees, and a shirt buttoned all the way up to his chin and tucked into his elastic-waistband shorts requesting pussy?

The second was on our one and only camping trip as a family. (Sidenote: I distinctly remember being annoyed with my Nancy Drew mystery on that trip because it had Nancy muttering something, and I knew instinctively that Nancy Drew never muttered a day in her life. She murmured.) We went with family friends, and one of their younger children was coloring with me and asked what the color was. “Fuck-sha,” I said calmly, while the girl’s mother thankfully burst into laughter before correcting me. “Fuschia.”

I also remember telling my mother that someone was a snitch, and her getting very angry with me. I knew that snitch was the right word; it was in Beverly Cleary, for goodness sake! Of course now I know she probably thought I said snatch, which is pretty hilarious. We were in the parking lot of the supermarket. That’s not important, I just thought I’d mention it.

As a matter of record, I also vividly recall the first time I said “Lord” outside of prayer. It was during recess in third grade, and I was convinced that I would go to hell for it, but whatshisface on Perfect Strangers said “Good Lord” or something all the time and he was so cool. Not Balky. The other one.

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