Swearing was not allowed in the house. But then again, swearing was on the cable TV and in the rooms and behind the words of everyone in the house. I remember the first time I swore in front of my mother. I must have been about 15 years old. We were in the garage, getting ready to get into the car. I’m sure it was the grey Isuzu Impulse, later to be mine. I don’t know what happened exactly, perhaps I had scraped myself with the car door, but I said, “Shit.”
My younger brother was silent. My mother looked at me with her dirtiest of looks, but that was it. I couldn’t believe I got away with it! My insides were popping with excitement and joy. Yes, joy. Why joy? Because I had gotten away with something bad, and I had done it right in front of my mother.
My mother swore, but you know when folks speak in their second language, how the swearing sounds funny? Yeah, couldn’t really take her seriously. Bad words lost all of their vitality and virility under my mom’s tongue. I think she might have given up because her Americanized children laughed at her poor pronunciation.
I liked swearing. It seemed the perfect way to rebel without really being horribly bad. The height of my swearing career occurred when I was in the 6th grade. Janet Craig and I were in a competition over who could swear the most. And she was really fucking good.
But when I was in junior high, my mom decided to stick my younger brother and I in a Christian school and I knew that my swearing days had come to a hasty end. Although there was this one time I decided to rebel again.
The 7th and 8th graders were in the same small classroom, and there were a couple of Mexican boys who enjoyed teasing and taunting me. Looking back, I think they were crushing on me, but looking then, I thought they just enjoyed giving me a hard time. It was always harmless. Sometimes their sexual and lewd gestures in the back of the classroom, when our teacher wasn’t looking, were confusing. I knew it was dirty, but I didn’t know what they were doing.
One day, out on the basketball courts, I think I might have had enough. But I don’t really remember what was said. All I recall were the “Oooohhhs,” you know, the “Ooohs” when a kid says something really insulting and you’re left there in the middle of playground-land to defend yourself. I decided to be dramatic. I like to be dramatic sometimes.
So I walked right up to Antonio and put myself inches from his face. This got the crowd really excited. And I said, “Fuck you.” The students went wild. And I felt pretty damn full of myself – until I saw how crestfallen he looked and later when I got in trouble and had to apologize.
Do you swear? What’s the biggest you got in trouble for swearing?