Growing up, my parents raised my sister and I with a strict policy: no saying shut up, no using the Lord’s name in vein, and no swearing. If we lived by those rules, we’d survive. I learned the hard way.
When I was 6, I said shut up to my mother right before we went to church on a Sunday morning; I must have heard it at school or from my sister, but will never say it again to her, because as the words came out of my little idiot mouth, she spun around and whacked me. I don’t know who was more stunned: my mother who couldn’t believe she just slapped me or me, disbelieving she actually would. Whatever the reaction, the bottom line is that I never said shut up to her ever again.
The summer before I went to college, I was hanging out with a friend at my house when a song we all loved came on. Being the geeks that we were, we’d created a dance to it. In the middle of the song, I messed up one of the moves and said quickly: Fuck! As soon as that one syllable slipped from my mouth, I knew that my mother (who was in the same room reading a book) would be none too pleased. She looked up at me over her glasses, slammed her book shut and stormed off. Yikes. I gave her a few hours, and I went to find her. I held my head low and said I’m sorry for swearing mom, it just came out. Her reply was: I just didn’t think I raised my daughters to say that word. Stunned, I retorted: well have you ever said that word? Oh Christ, I knew I’d gone too far. Deep from some unknown and very very scary place game a deep and low growl that erupted into: THAT’S NOT THE POINT MARGRET!!!! Yeah, I should have let her cool off a bit longer. It took her a few days to get over that one.
Flash forward to a few years later when I was home from college for a long weekend. Saving Private Ryan was playing on television; my father and I were watching it when I suddenly realized that they were swearing without bleeping any of the words. (It must have been around Veteran's Day) Shocked, I turned to my father, and said: they can say that? As I was asking this, my mother walked into the room, heard the question and asked: they can say what?
To which my father so graciously replied: they said the fuck word.