What The $!#&!
I’ve thought a lot about my journey this week. This brought to mind “Inside The Actor’s Studio,” an interview show before an audience of performing arts students about the journeys of well-known entertainers of stage & screen, including actors, directors, screenwriters and composers. It being Friday and all, I thought it would be fun for the Miss Demeanors to close out the week with a standard question that show-host James Lipton asks his guests to lighten the mood after grilling them about their struggles and salad days: What’s your favorite curse word? Robin: Mine, which I’m trying not to use in the YA I’m currently working on, is “f–k.” One of my best friends is also a fan of this word and she collects memorabilia for what she calls her “F–k Wall” (which is hysterical in and of itself). Last time I was in NYC I got her a T-Shirt that says “F–k You, You F–king F–k.” She now has it framed above her desk in a place of honor on the F–k Wall. Cate: I have young kids, so I try not to swear in real life. I say a lot of “geez Louises” and “oh dear Lords.” However, the characters in my fiction are often in situations where an epithet or two is called for. My favorite is the B-word, because it is used to denigrate and intimidate women–I often have female characters that have to get over some form of intimidation–and, also, as a term of endearment among female friends. “What’s up biotch?” Susan: I think I must be a vicarious curser because I’m friendly with a lot of people who swear all the time, but I don’t really do it myself. I was teaching a class a few weeks ago and said, “WTF” and everyone looked at me as though I’d sprouted a new head. It was sort of empowering. Perhaps I’ll start, now that I’m a Miss Demeanor. Paula: I never cursed until I got my first job as a business reporter, the only woman on an all-male staff. I was young and naive and the guys gave me a hard time until I learned to do the two things they insisted all “real” reporters did: drink black coffee and swear. I mastered both in record time. As for a favorite swear word: Dipshit, a colorful expression I picked up from my father aka The Colonel. In our family that is quite the put-down. Tracee: Is dipshit a swear word? (Sorry Paula!) I try to swear only in private and therefore won’t give you my favorites but they would make a sailor’s skin crawl (it really does feel good). In the South when a woman of a certain age says “bless his/her heart” that basically means they are damned to the lowest circle of hell, thus proving that it isn’t the actual words but the meaning. Alexia: Some years ago, during an interview on IFC’s The Actor’s Studio, the host asked the brilliant actor, Nathan Lane, what his favorite swear word was. “F**k. Or a**hole. If you can call someone a f**king a**hole, you know it’s a great day.” Those have been my favorite swear words since then. You can get away with “bless your heart” in public because so few know what you really mean. I also like to use British/Irish swear words, like “bloody” and “bollocks”, for the same reason. They don’t sound so bad over here. My publisher frowns on excessive profanity but I manage to get away with “shite” in my novels. Pronounced with a long i, it has a certain charm. Michele: Since I’m in Dublin right now, I’ll have to say the word “feck” is simply a delightful way to say the f-word. But if you want to know the swear that I’ve found the most versatile, it’s a word my late ex-husband and his friends on the police department invoked frequently. “Mother-f***er” with a simply twist on inflection can sound like a lament (Ah, mother-f***er, my tire is flat; a question (Mother-f***er? What happened to my tire?, as in WTF); or as an indictment (You mother-f***ker, you let the air out of my tire! as in “You bastard, you let the air out of my tire). Then there are the variations in accents. Of course, Boston sounds like Mothah-f***kah, but New York, New Jersey, and deep Southern variations are delicious too.I try to limit my use of the word to when I am driving alone in traffic jams in Boston. Alexia: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/helen-mirren-wishes-she-told-people-to-f-off-more_us_5600076ae4b0fde8b0cee0fc. If it’s good enough for Helen Mirren… Paula: Ha! Love her! Robin: Happy Friday!