By: Ann Brown
We were discussing profanity in literature. Lunaea was careful to be discreet but I got the message.
“It can show a certain…paucity of wit” was her exact turn of phrase. Followed, of course, by “oh, but I don’t mean your writing, Ann. When you use that language, it’s…” I don’t remember how she finished her sentence. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she let the ellipsis just hang there, gently fanning her reproach at me. No punctuation mark can shame like the ellipsis. There is literally no end to its judgment. Unlike the coyly critical Question Mark – “You’ve had quite a lot to drink, haven’t you?” – which states its objection and then walks away, the Ellipsis remains a continual reminder of your inadequacies. Fuck that shit.
Now, I don’t expect the whole world to work blue. I get it that some people find my extremely liberal attitude towards profanity to be, I guess, distracting. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I mean, Lunaea spells her blog, BLOGUE, for fuck’s sake. I cannot imagine a post that features topics such as my sister’s missing hymen or Mother Mary’s hemorrhoids in anything called a blogue. And even if there were such a post in her blogue, Lunaea would probably capitalize it, as Victorian writers were wont to do, making it sound erudite and literary.
On the afternoon of the fourth colourful festival of lifts (I am just listing Olde words I know) my sister found herself on holiday at sea, and completely Without Her Hymen. Heavens!
And Lunaea, being A Very Talented Writer, could probably squeeze a pretty kickass story out of that beginning. Whereas I, being A Very Lazy And Impatient Writer, I’d just shoot out a few “for fuck’s sake”s and “FML”s and hit “publish”. Because life is short and I want to be in the sun for a few hours before my stories come on.
The common anti-profanity objection of, “when you use those words it just shows that your vocabulary is limited” may be true, although I fully intend to count how many words I know because now my curiosity is piqued. Piqued, I said. You know, piqued:
annoyance, blowup, conniption, dander, displeasure, flare-up, grudge, huff, hurt, irk, miff, offense, peeve, pet*, provocation, resentment, rise, ruckus*, slow burn, snit, sore*, stew, storm*, tiff, umbrage, vexation
Still, I maintain that “for fuck’s sake” stands on its own merit despite its many alternatives. I mean, when the new external hard drive you just bought is a piece of shit and comes with an ironclad return policy of, basically, “never. Ever. No matter what” even though they clearly misrepresented the product to you, and when you threaten them that it would be a shame if your son – THE LAWYER – would have to take time from his busy schedule to get involved on your behalf to facilitate a refund, and their response is, again, basically, “never. Ever. No matter what”, well, a huffy, “By your leave, Sir!” isn’t gonna cut it.
Plus, it would show a paucity of balls.