The F-Bomb


“Don't use the F-word in your writing.”  My mother said peering over her glasses.

I recognized the all too familiar look on her face.  It was the one she used for things such as, oh, the discovery of “nasty” magazines stuffed between my mattress and box spring.   But I was an adult man in my forties now and if I wanted to use the F-bomb, then fuck it, I would use it.

“I agree with your mother.” Paul blurted out.  I shot him a look that said we’d deal with this act of treason later.
“Well, if you do use it, it should be reserved for punctuation.”  He said smiling nervously, his index finger making an imaginary exclamation point. His eyes were darting between me and my mother, trying to move us somewhere into the middle.  But I wouldn’t budge.
“This is the way people talk.  I’m just trying to keep it real.”   I said doing my best what-what? thug body pose.
“You don’t talk that way. I taught you better.”  My mother said, and she was right.  I don’t talk that way.  But that was not the point.  The point was that I was being told by my seventy three year old mother that I should not do something.  She should have learned by now that if she told me not to do something I would pursue it with fucking gusto.
But every time I started to write, I found that I could not use the word.
“There are a plethora of substitutes: ‘Darn it’, ‘Gosh’ and if you want to give it a British flare, how about ‘Bloody’?”  Paul said trying to be helpful.
“Right. That is just bloody brill!”  I replied sarcastically.  I had not forgiven him for siding with my mother and added “Why should I listen to someone who uses the fucking word plethora anyway?”
As a writer, I wanted to feel free to express my thoughts, emotions and experiences without feeling that a censor was looking over my shoulder.  But my mother’s “tsk-tsk” echoed in my brain.  Using the f-bomb made me feel less literary and more trailer-trash, looking for a cheap laugh with a fart joke.
And then I picked up The New Yorker magazine.  Right there in the middle of the magazine was an essay that had not one, but three F-bombs in it, four if you included wtf.   It also included the term dick-slapped, but I thought that might be pushing things a bit.  And besides, I wasn’t sure if being dick-slapped was a good thing or a bad thing.  I mean, I could see both sides.
This was irrefutable proof that using the F-bomb was not only acceptable, but might actually help to get me published more widely.   So, by my count I’ve used the word three times in this post, four if you include wtf....which I have just used again.
The New Yorker should be calling me any minute, but my mother is going to be so fucking pissed.




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