Holding Forth

Published on December 20th, 2014 | by Richard Black

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A Eulogy for My Good Friend the Word “Fuck”

single_wooden_cross

Goodbye Fuck. We hardly knew ye

Goodbye Fuck. You were a well and goodly invective. While it’s hard to pin down the exact date of of his demise it is believed that Fuck passed somewhere during the late 2000’s. At best guess he was over 500 years of age but Fuck may have been, quite possibly, many years older.

Fuck is survived by no one but beloved by many.

Fuck was born of Germanic parents and evolved to become one of the most quite versatile. Noun, verb, adjective or adverb he provided countless millions of adolescents, drunks and semi-illiterates with an easy means to convey consternation, extreme displeasure and a bit of spice during the physical act of love.

I remember when Fuck was taboo and the mention of the word in a movie prompted an “R” rating and a look of shock from one’s elders. Back in the 1980’s when an artist used Fuck in a song it prompted a riot of activity from the conservative right and a lot of elderly people from the deep south, Arizona and Florida to donate millions of dollars to evangelical ministers, some of whom I feel compelled to note were enthusiastic and clandestine supporters of the act they publicly denounced. Fuck never judged and privately I think he felt good about the role he placed in fundraising.

Fuck also played prominently in politics. For the sake of propriety and, quite frankly, brevity I’ll only note the one incident that I recall in which Fuck was brought to the forefront of the national conscious. Enter Tipper Gore. Remember Tipper Gore? Wife of Al and a democrat who put together a group of people with the sole purpose of encouraging Congress to place warning labels on CD’s? It worked by the way and we still got our curse riddled CD’s but we had to pay a homeless guy five bucks to pick up As Nasty as They Wanna Be by Two Live Crew.

As a side note it was in this way that Tipper Gore became the largest contributor to alcoholism and drug abuse amongst the homeless in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Fuck, to say the least, was not pleased.

 

Unfortunately by the time I really began to appreciate Fuck he had just made inroads into common parlance. We talked from time to time but due to his popularity and the constraints on his time he was a hard verb to hang out with. All in all he seemed to be pleased with his introduction into mainstream society even though he was aware that it heralded the twilight of his life.  He had been good friends with Damn after all and witnessed his downfall a few decades after he featured in the closing words of the movie “Gone With the Wind.”

We often don’t remember it but there was a time that Damn was pretty much the worst thing someone could say to someone. For centuries Damn reigned supreme in the realm of curses. For religious folk there really wasn’t anything worse, or perhaps more enjoyable, than condemning someone else to eternal hellfire. Damn’s downfall signaled the secularization of modern society and quite possibly gave rise to the popularity of Fuck but that is beyond the scope of this eulogy.

When I was in grade school I remember when I first learned of Fuck. Knowing him let me into some sort of secret society.

playground

A fertile ground for cursing, head injury and staph infection

I can’t exactly call it an end to my innocence as neither I nor anyone else my age had a clear understanding of what the term meant. We knew that it was “bad”, and that was enough. If uttered and overheard Fuck would provoke swift and often corporal punishment by the establishment. He was the first thing that separated “us” from “them” and as a dorky little kid it represented one of the few times that I became an “us”.

Most of us were pretty sure that “fuck” had something to do with sex, another concept we had a loose and theoretical understanding of, and we rarely used it in proper context.

“My lunch is fuck,” I remember hearing one of my friends say over a bowl of stewed prunes. “Fuck that hurt like fuck,” one of us would wail after catching a football with our face. What we missed in grammatical nuance we made up for in invective.

That said we weren’t a bright group. I remember spending the bulk of one semester kicking each other in the balls during recess just because it was fun to watch someone crumple over in dire and mortal pain. They were different times, duller ones perhaps but a time in which Fuck still had some punch.

Around the same age, perhaps even a little earlier, I remember writing the word in the condensation on a bus window just to test it out. I even spelled it correctly, no minor feat for a kindergartner. The response on the bus was truly spectacular and in my mind well out of proportion to such a small word.

“Richard wrote the word “fuck” on the window,” a girl next to me screamed. Another girl took up the call and before I knew it an entire bus was screaming that I had just written the word “fuck” on a window.

Fortunately the bus driver was more interested in steering the mobile riot on wheels than determining my culpability but I scrubbed the  offensive term off the window just in case. As a happy aside to this aside I went to college with the girl who noted and narked my bus window scribblings some years later and banged her like a gong. I’d like to thank Fuck for bringing us together.

In his heyday Fuck was a pretty useful term. When used correctly he gave a phrase some punch. Fuck provided some shock and awe before Shock and Awe. He gave the 1990’s and 1980’s the same sort of kick Damn used to provide before his untimely demise and left a void for curses of a general nature.

In 2003 Fuck was truly rendered impotent as an invective and never recovered. Bono blurted him out at the Grammys  sparking the ire of a few right wing evangelical groups and prompting the rest of the nation to yawn in response. I also heard my 60 year old mother use the term in my presence when she stubbed her toe and knew that Fuck was not long for this world.

The phrase “F Bomb”, a poor euphemism for my good friend came into prominence shortly thereafter, usurping his importance in the lexicon and rendering him largely impotent as an invective.

He will be truly missed.

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