Sunday, December 20, 2009


After a fun lunch date with Ben and Leslie last week, I was telling them the story of the first time I ever said a curse word. Mind you, I grew up in a pretty strict Catholic household where we went to church and CCD every week. I knew how to stand, kneel, sit, kneel, stand and sit and recite the whole mass like the back of my hand. God and I were pretty good friends up until then. And when I went to confession, usually it was about pinching my brother or not eating my green beans. Pretty minor stuff. Y'see, I was always teacher's pet. The goody tooshoes. Never ever thought about being the bad seed or doing anything that would give me real reason to tell a priest to forgive me father for I had sinned.

I remember that defining moment in my childhood like it was yesterday. And truly it was a defining moment. I was standing on the sidewalk about a mile from my elementary school on my way home. It was maybe a block from my best friend, Christine Carangian's house. I don't remember what brought it up but I'd been thinking long and hard about cursing and what it meant to say something so bad, so horrible, so worth going to confession for. All the logic of a fifth grader was going through my head. "It's just a word", I thought. "Just a word. How can one word be bad? Why would you go to hell for saying a word."

I remember stopping on the sidewalk and putting my backpack and lunchbox on the ground. Standing there for a few moments I gathered the guts up and clenched my fists. And then finally, I took a super deep breath and it barely came out ... "shit". I waited for lightning to strike me down. I looked up at the clear blue sky. I looked all around, up and down the street. But nothing. Nothing happened. No lighting bolts. No ground opening up and swallowing me whole. Nothing. "Huh", I thought. And so I said it again but a little louder this time. "Shit." I looked up. I looked around. I waited. And still, nothing. All of a sudden, it was like I was given this power. This gift.

I remember saying it the whole way home. "Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit". And if James Lipton asked me today, I'd tell him it's my favorite curse word. And yes, I did go to confession for it. In fact, I was telling Leslie and Ben, it was the last time I went to confession.

What's funny is if you know me, I don't look like I would, but I have the mouth of a sailor. I can curse with the best of them. I love to curse. In certain situations, of course. I'm not super into sitting at the Thanksgiving table and saying, "These are the best motherfucking sweet potatoes goddamnit!" Although it would be funny. But my mom might stuff my mouth with a bar of soap.


Ben said...

Shit yes! I love this fucking story.

Clare said...

At the ripe old age of 2.5 Theo had already mastered "damnit". I can't imagine where he picked it up...

H.Cherdon said...

That's brilliant. I love it. And sure one day James Lipton will ask you. Merry Christmas!