A Little Edgy

I know it’s not a becoming word, the f-word. I manage to avoid its use in the presence of clients. It’s harder to edit myself in the more relaxed company of close colleagues or at a bar with friends. Of course I try to refrain from saying it in front of my children, but often the bodies attached to those innocent ears are the source of irritation and rage that elicits the use of the very word I’ve made a concerted effort to avoid.

I suppose this is a serious #fail as a mother. Not that it’s so frequent; it’s still a surprise when it happens and the kids still look at me in shock. Of course I immediately acknowledge that I’ve used a bad word, apologizing and instructing them, please, not to repeat it. Inside I’m kicking myself because I know they’re likely to use it sooner because of my carelessness. I don’t mean to be a foul-mouthed mom. I never heard my mother using the f-word, ever. I think the worst curse I ever heard from her was Jesus H. Christ on a crutch, or maybe an occasional Oh shit. At least here’s one example of me not turning into my own mother.

The thing is, I like the f-word. It’s expressive. It’s fun to say. It starts off all furry. Then there’s a deliberately passionless vowel. And it ends with the sharp bite of ck. It sounds like what it means. I’m not so wild about its use as a verb, but as a general expletive, it’s unsurpassed in its efficient expression of annoyance. It is the pinnacle of curse words.

~ ~ ~

It’s usually the high point of the day for me, watching the Daily Show. After De-facto marches the kids out the door to go to school, I refresh my coffee mug and set myself in front of the previous night’s episode. Sometimes I’ll wait until he returns from the school-run to watch it. If it’s an especially busy day I’ll hold off until bedtime; tucked into our covers with pillows propped behind us, we’ll open my computer to the web page – living abroad we can only view the show via the Internet – and sit back for 20 minutes of funny.

He’s a hero of mine, Jon Stewart, pointing out the absurdities in the news and revealing the illogical policies and practices of Republicans. He makes fun of the Democrats, too, but these days there have been more reasons to ridicule the Republicans. Until this week, that is.

The girls had gone to bed; the house was quiet. I suggested a viewing of the Daily Show before lights out and De-facto agreed. The episode that opened for us was the one in which Stewart reported on the Presidential debates that had aired the night before.

Everything he said about President Obama’s lackluster performance was true. It was a stellar job of poking fun at the campaign and calling out the shockingly sedate stance of the incumbent candidate during this political exercise. De-facto was laughing out loud. I knew it was funny, but I couldn’t laugh. I was too agitated.

I remember when I was little, watching the I Love Lucy show. Lucy would get herself in such a pickle, I’d get too nervous and I’d have to leave the study, where we watched television, and run through all the rooms of the house, several times, ultimately ending up in the hallway sitting on the stairs too upset to return to the TV show. Even though I knew it was just a TV program, it wound me up too much. I had to physically leave the room.

“I can’t look at it anymore,” I told De-facto, before bounding out of bed. I paced around the kitchen and the living room, on edge, cursing. I let the f-bombs fly.

I thought everyone was asleep. I thought wrong. My string of obscenities prompted Short-pants to run down the stairs to see what was the matter.

“What wrong, mama?” She looked alarmed.

“Your future!” I screeched.

I walked her back upstairs and told her my fears about what might happen if President Obama wasn’t re-elected and why I think we need him now, perhaps more than ever. I reminded her of previous discussions we’ve had about women’s rights. I talked about the growing anti-science stance of the extremists in the other party. I tried to explain the impact on the Supreme Court if Mr. Romney were to appoint the next two justices. Thoughts of the latter, almost provoking another f-bomb out of me right there in her presence.

“But I don’t have to worry,” she said. “I live in France.”

“That might not always be the case,” I said, thinking of the modest but consistent donations I’ve started making to my alma mater just in case she wants to go to university in the States.

I’ve become rather invested in the Obama campaign. I haven’t donated just $5 or $41; I’ve attended fundraising events here in Paris that require writing larger checks, the most recent, a Paris fashion-week event hosted by Anna Wintour and Scarlett Johansson. (Mick Jagger even came by.) I worry, daily, about the outcome of the Presidential election. I read Politico and The Dish religiously. Nate Silver is my second hero, after Jon Stewart.

I went to sleep last Wednesday night hopeful for at least an uneventful debate, or at best, a trouncing of the challenger. Thursday morning I scanned the emails from all the news services to which I subscribe, each subject heading more discouraging than the previous. I felt myself shrinking, message by message, until I had to close my laptop computer. I couldn’t read any more. Nobody was home with me, so I just said it out loud without apology: fuck.

~ ~ ~

Last night at the dinner table, after some light-humored nudging about using silverware instead of fingers and napkins instead of sleeves, Short-pants, in a gesture of turnabout-is-fair-play, told our dinner guest, a school friend of Buddy-roo, about how sometimes I let a curse word slip out, and how the other night I was downstairs circling the kitchen island in the dark when I used the f-word. Everyone at the table looked at me like I was the crazy woman that I guess I am.

Some things you can’t lie about, so I owned up to my mistake. But following this political race so closely, I guess I’ve been learning a little about spin.

“Listen,” I said, “ten years from now you’ll think I’m cool. You’ll be able to tell your friends that your mom’s got a little edge.”

“That’s right,” Short-pants smiled broadly, showing the food in her braces. “I’ll say, ‘My mom’s a little edgy.'”

Yeah, okay, maybe not.

3 Responses to “A Little Edgy”

  • Caroline Pakel aka Fraley Says:

    Nice post.
    Reminded me how I feared the man would end up with a nervous breakdown if Obama did not get elected 4 years ago – of course, I wished for him to win but the tensions in my home bothered me more! 🙂
    Isn’t it interesting that you should be so worried about this? I find it hard to be bothered by the elections in France when I live in the UK. Maybe I am truly apolitical or simply just disengaged from a life in France I only participate in sporadically and for business mainly.
    I hear there are only 3 weeks to go. So may you find ways to relax and de-stress, maybe just share with others the belief and the trust that Obama deserves to get in again. After all, if aficionadas like you start doubting or worrying, then surely, he may not get through! Someone told me this year that I was just so, so “hopeful” and I am still unsure whether that was meant as a positive or a negative. I have decided it’s the former. Let’s be fucking hopeful, I say! 🙂

  • Andy Parker Says:

    One of the reasons I loved the re-boot of Battlestar Galactica, is that it gave me a new expletive: frack. The practices of the natural gas industry, with hydraulic fracturing, currently support my usage. Even so, I don’t use the word, a lot. I don’t want it to lose it’s power as part of my vocabulary.

    I don’t tend to swear much. And whatever damage–as it were–that may have been done to the kids from hearing me swear, happened when I had my stroke. When the kids and their mom found me, I was laying on my back repeating, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” Now when something stunning happens–after the fact–I’ll say something like, “that makes me want to say what I said when I had my stroke. I’ll pause, and begin to say the words. My son (15) will smile, and my daughter (10), will too, and add a “stop” that lets me know to where the words take her. I did that in July when I learned I had a little cancer, and no way to take care of it. But that’s another story (and it’s why I’m behind on my reading). It’s done, now.

    Regarding this fracking election, I like what EJ Dionne relayed yesterday. In case you didn’t see it, a pollster friend of his said to him: “When you give conservatives bad news in your polls, they want to kill you,” he said. “When you give liberals bad news in your polls, they want to kill themselves.” To which Dionne commented, “Buck up liberals!” I won’t say I’m confident of an Obama victory, but I still like his chances. Then there’s what we’ve lived through. I bet you grew up wondering if you would survive Reagan the way I did. We did. Then came W. We survived him, too. Yes, we’re still paying for aspects of both their presidencies. Still, if we have to, I think we’ll survive Etch-a-Sketch, as well.

  • magpie Says:

    I’m rather unrestrained in my language – spoken language that is, I rarely curse in “print”. So my kid is used to it. But the real reason she thinks I’m cool? I play that certain Cee Lo Green at top volume in the car on occasion. It’s our dirty little secret.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that our guy wakes up for the next debates.

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