It was my use and vast knowledge of colorful language that led a former boss (now friend) to nickname me “TSJ” — aka Truck Stop Jody. As in, curses like a trucker. He told me that I introduced him to some words and phrases he’d never heard before, and wouldn’t dare utter in front of most people and all women. Except me.
I’ve been experimenting with sailor-style language since elementary school. Even back then, I tested out a few gems on my dad (not yet knowing how offensive they really were, or how to use them appropriately, with fervor and panache).
Me: “These pants are green. They’re horny!”
Dad: “Never say that word. Who taught you that word? That’s not what it means.”
Dad was not into dirty words. “Damn” was not allowed. Hell, “fart” wasn’t even allowed. We had to say we “beeped.”
Early on, I think the excitement of cursing appealed to me. I got immediate attention, even though it wasn’t always positive. Back then, ANY attention was good. Both at home and at school, nobody could put this bitchy baby in a corner when she was lobbing sophomoric f-bombs. Being the class clown was a shitload of fun.
I was most influenced by Eddie Murphy. His Delirious tour — and accompanying tape — came out in 1983, the year I turned 13 and Eddie was 22. I have no idea how I got my hands on it, but I did, and it changed my life. In a phrase, FUCKING AWESOME. Then Raw in 1987? Magic.
On the subject of bad language, Eddie recalled Bill Cosby calling him to complain about Eddie’s risqué act — it seemed to Eddie that Bill thought all he did was curse.
“Now I can’t have no ‘curse’ show, I mean I gotta throw in a few jokes in between the curses, I can’t come out and go ‘Hello! Filth flarn filth, motherfucker, dick, pussy, snot and shit. Good night! Suck my dick!’” Eddie did not mince words.
I memorized Eddie’s bits and may have taken a few months to study the nuances of the word fuck, the best curse word ever. It’s a noun, it’s a verb, it’s an adjective. Multi-purpose. Anyone building a foul-mouthed toolbox should definitely start with “fuck.”
With a lot of practice under my belt, I began to come into my own in college. During sorority rush, a friend and I would even look up NEW words to call rushes that would confound and bewilder the other sisters. As this was a time before Urban Dictionary, we found “real” words and appropriated them for our own use. And of course, relied on older brothers and the old Eddie Murphy tapes to enrich our material.
I never saw any harm in my lewdness.
Once, a business associate took me aside and told me I was causing myself professional harm and doing a disservice to women by using creative language. Interestingly, it’s always the unattractive broads with glass ceiling hang-ups who bring up stuff like this. I paid her no mind, and never heard another soul mention anything about my lewd language during a fairly quick ascent of the corporate ladder.
It’s one of those things that, ahem, women shouldn’t do, but men can. Sexism. I’d rather think it gives me an edge than it makes me a whore. Or whatever the supposed label or penalty is.
I’m really not quite sure why words that aren’t directed in a derogatory or hurtful manner are so scorned. I figure I’m just livening up and clarifying the conversation, like Eddie did.
When it comes to dirty words, the master is, of course, George Carlin. His “Seven Dirty Words” bit even spawned a Supreme Court case about the regulation of obscenities, FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation. George’s initial list of words you can’t say on were shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Times have changed, and I think you might be able to say piss now, in some realms. And on cable, anything goes.
My all-time favorite treatise on foul-mouthedness is a very short clip from Billy Connolly about the universal nature of the phrase “fuck off.” Billy is dead on when he says “fuck off” can be understood in any language.
It explains what I love about nasty language — it gets to the point, fast, and without confusion or mincing words. And it’s FUNNY.
I’m just coming off an amazing weekend with one old friend and 12 or so brand new friends. I went balls out and acted just like me, no holds barred. Foul language flew (from all of us, actually) and outrageous topics were our cocktail of choice. My buddy Marty said everyone loved me. (I hope she wasn’t yanking my wank!)
Perhaps, because — like Eddie — I’m not all douchebag this and rimchair that all the time. There’s substance and goodness beneath the scatological surface.
So why change? I’m fucking awesome just the way I am.