Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011.01.12 Redeeming the F Word?

What I said this morning as I looked out on mountains of snow was, “ Oh F..k, it’s beautiful!”

I first heard the offending word from a neighbor Doris Nichols, 11 to my 8. I asked her how to spell it. I went home to ask my mother what does f-u-c-k mean? She blanched, told me never to say it, and our discussion ended with me not knowing what it meant. Taboo.

The F word is more intense than my usual choices of spiritual lemons, those things that we condemn that God blesses without making lemonade. But this lemon has more zest than some, and more ambiguity. It makes some people curl lips, turn away, shudder, cringe noticeably, think the one who said it is a bad filthy person. It makes other laugh and feel as if they've really said how they really feel.

I suppose it has become a curse, a violent word, a hate word, frightening word, one associated with sex for violence not love. A profanity. Why?

No one really knows how this word got abused, though a billion theories abound. There’s even a town in German named F . . . and a book called F Book. Really! And it sells. What’s the lure?

People want to say this word though. It’s a forceful modifier, for good or ill. People want to say it so much they re-invent it and say “friggin’” or “freakin’”, just F., or #!@*! But everyone knows what word is there. And pay attention. Many laugh.

The dictionary, usually to be counted on for an unelaborated definition, simply says for noun and verb alike: the act of, or engaging in, sexual intercourse. Last I heard that was not taboo, or dirty.

So I wonder if, without losing its charisma, the f-word could regain respect if it’s returned to its proper meaning: the most powerful fleshly experience of love human beings can have together.

If used as invective it can be quite effective; if used for true love-making even more so.

(Don’t erase me from your click list, just color me a wry provocateur.)

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