This post will probably seem absurd to most men of any age, and both sexes under the age of 40. But until just recently, I could barely utter the F-word. When I was growing up, nice Catholic girls my age didn’t use cuss words. For God sakes, my parents wouldn’t even use the word “fart.” My mother called them all “burps.” No distinction. I was probably in my teens before I realized that not all burps were created equal!
Now, having a feisty daughter to whom the F-bomb was a favorite missile of defiance during her teens, and having worked on a college campus for 23 years where kids used the F-word like no tomorrow, you’d think I’d have become immune. But, nope. Something in me went “ouch” whenever I heard it.
In the course of therapy, or maybe I read it in a self-help book, I ran across something called F-U Therapy that sounded intriguing. My repressed psyche needed loosening up, and I had a butt load of anger brewing around in the basement. So one day, when I was real mad at someone or something, or maybe everyone and everything, I turned on the shower full blast (did I think it’d drown out the sound in case a neighbor happened to be eavesdropping?) and got started.
At first the words were almost painful to get out, and didn’t feel real, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it, and after a few attempts, I was F-U’ing at the top of my lungs. Whew. I felt better afterwards. The steam pouring out of the bathroom wasn’t just from the hot water. I had loosened a gasket.
I had graduated. I could now use the F-word. But I used it judiciously. And only under great duress. I didn’t feel like I was a “cool” person because I could use the F-word. But sometimes, lady-like be damned, nothing else did the job quite as well.
And then along came my boyfriend, Mister F, Himself. This former cigar-smoking, motorcycle-riding Manhattanite could throw the word around like a New York City mafioso. He did it with such flair. He even had a mug on his kitchen windowsill with a big smiley face and the words, “Have a nice f****ng day!” That his sister gave him! My mother must’ve been turning over in her grave!
That’s when the real desensitization kicked in. I started using the word with abandon, around him, anyway. We were in love, and you know how it is. You want to impress, and he was proud of being the one to break down my barriers. But, after a while, I realized it wasn’t really me. I’m not the repressed little thing I used to be, but neither am I some tough, potty-mouthed broad. The pendulum had swung too far.
I’m happy that I no longer wince at the word. I may not always like hearing it, and there is such a thing as good manners. But now, liberated woman that I am, if I need to do F-U therapy, I don’t have to turn the shower on full blast! And, get this. My expletive-prone daughter told me recently that she and her husband decided they really should stop using the F-word so much.