“My lips are moving and the sound is coming out. The words are audible but I have my doubts that you realize what has been said. You look at me as if you're in a daze. It's like the feeling at the end of the page. When you realize you don't know what you just read.”
- Missing Persons, "Words"
Words are everywhere and are everything. It’s how we communicate through writing, speaking, singing, shouting or even silently mouthing (O.M.G. <eyeroll>). Words can be empowering or dehumanizing. They can be used to build someone up or tear someone down. Words are powerful and yet we toss them around casually as if innocuous. How often do we really think about the words we choose to use? After all, they are just a communicative tool; they are just words.
A while back I saw an Amazon review for my book and it wasn’t a good one, in fact it was the only bad review I’ve received thus far. Was the writing poor? Nope. Did my message miss the mark? No. The reviewer slammed me for my vulgar language. Hmmmp! So I did what most people in this day and age would do, I posed a question to my fans and followers on social media.
“What was the first thing you said or thought just after being told you (or your loved one) had cancer?”
Well, I don’t think I have to list all of the replies here but I will suffice to say, most of my peeps replied with a very colorful array of verbiage. Lots of f-bombs and s-words, a few m-effers, and one or two SOB’s and you know what, each one of those words (or phrases) is justified. Cancer certainly doesn’t play by the rules and I don’t think that we need to remain stoic and polite in its presence. If there is ever a time when a foul-mouthed rant is not only necessary it’s justified, is immediately following a doctor’s somber statement of, “I’m sorry but it’s cancer.”
So what makes us so puritanical? Even I, of the vulgarity filled tome, used a polite short hand in the preceding paragraph. I’m not saying that we should be running around everyday quoting George Carlin’s Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television, though, if that’s how you roll then go for it. I think communicating your feelings in any way you see fit is more important than worrying about words that may be considered profane. There are many studies (though I don’t know how accurate they actually are) that point to those who keep their emotions to themselves, bottled-up, as more susceptible to a cancer diagnosis. There is the common thinking that by swallowing your feelings, and in turn your words, you may be harboring negativity deep inside your body allowing that negativity to manifest itself in rogue evil cells. I’m not so sure I buy into all that laws of attraction touchy-feely crap but I do know I, personally, feel great when I am expressing myself in whatever manner I see fit.
If you spend any time with me you’ll quickly find out I’m fond of the fuck-its. I strive for a well-placed asshat and I loves me some badass. Bite me is in regular conversational rotation as is shit-show. To quote John Cleese as Archie Leach in A Fish Called Wanda, I, like Otto, am a true vulgarian…and that’s fine by me. As a woman closing in on 47 at warp speed I am damn comfortable in my skin. I’ll do and say as I please thank you very much. If it offends you I suggest you place Sensitive Suzy back in the box and avert your delicate eyes. I am a real person and I write as I speak. And that’s where I get into trouble. Seems those who know me well know how I converse, make my point and most find my narratives at social gatherings, family dinners, or casual get-togethers rather funny. I’ve never once been asked to tone down my language…until the arrival of Facebook. That’s when I realized how insanely uptight some people are. See, if I say ‘bullshit’ no one flinches, but if I type out b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t as part of my status I get chastised. If I continue with a rat-bastard I get unfollowed and my mother gets a phone call. And, if after doing the cancer dance, I post that chemo blows a goat I get unfriended.
Holy shitballs! If that's what gets your panties in a twist you just might be too old for the Internet.
I find so many other things far more offensive than a few four-letter words. I regularly scroll through my newsfeed to see horrific images of child abuse, racism, religious extremism, genocide, bullying, animal cruelty, and politicians. Offensive? To me yes. So I do what most adults do…I keep scrolling until I find funny anecdotes, 80's trivia, and cute puppy pictures.
I know now, whenever I posted something edgy on my book page, I will lose a few fans…and then, in turn, I will typically gain a few more. That’s okay. It’s my page and I need it to be honest and genuine. I do strive to be respectful and I try to always have a little of everything, provocative wit, acerbic comments, informative news, healthy recipes, and quotes that continue to empower and build up those going through a very tough time. So onward my grown-ass followers, embrace your feelings, be considerate, speak your truth and most importantly don’t censure others from speaking theirs. We all have different ways of conveying our message, use your words and do so with integrity; be yourself. And remember, as Lenny Bruce once observed, life is a four-letter word too.