I was standing out back of my father’s — well, I don’t know what the fuck it was, but it was a building of indeterminate function. A big building in which you could stack a couple tractors on top of one another. Big brown metal walls. Concrete floor. One end open, the others closed. He did sandblasting there. Painting. Some engine work and some reloading and gunsmithing. (About ten yards south of the building was a shooting bench and about 200 yards off, a backstop.)
We were standing out there one day for whatever reason or another and I was about 12 at the time and I let slip with a so-called “bad word.” I said this word by way of an accident — not that I let this vulgarity slip out but rather I meant to say one word and I said this word instead.
That word was “piss.”
Not exactly a bunker-buster of a bad word, but bad enough for a 12-year-old at that time and I was afraid as soon as the word fell out of my mouth that with such an utterance I would earn his rather significant ire, but the opposite happened:
He laughed, and was proud of me.
That was the day, I think, that I learned to truly love me some profanity.
It’s part of my schtick, here, but it’s also part of who I am and how I really talk. (Though people are often surprised I don’t ladle heaping helpings of shit and fuck on every conversation, podcast or interview I have — hey, I do try to maintain a level of politeness, particularly with people who may not be super-comfortable with me spraying that kind of naughty-juice all over them.) I responded strongly to George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Denis Leary. (I did not respond strongly to Andrew Dice Clay, curiously — I always thought his profanity was in service of being dirty, not in service of being funny or making a point.)
I use profanity here at this site pretty frequently, and most folks seem happy about that or at least cautiously comfortable. The bad words are in my books, too — even in my young adult books because I probably cursed more when I was a teenager than I do now, and while I recognize that not all teens are foul-mouthed little shit-birds, a good number of them are or they’ve at least heard the words used by peers. (My cornpunk YA, Under the Empyrean Sky, uses more made-up profanity than real-world stuff, though.) Some of the negative reviews of my books will call out this penchant for linguistic naughtiness, which is fine and fair and that’s where bad reviews do good work: they let others who might be offended by such things know what they’re going to get, and so they might want to avoid. Like warning you a bridge is out ahead, or that a product contains peanuts. My Miriam Black books in particular are soggy with dirty words. Some folks have suggested that women don’t speak that way, but they haven’t met many of the wonderfully foul-mouthed women in my life. (My own mother dropped an f-bomb when meeting my in-laws.)
Because of this, my books or blog posts sometimes offend, and that’s okay.
(It’s worth noting here my thoughts on offending people, which is to say, I don’t much care. I don’t mind offending you. I very much mind if something I say hurts you directly or indirectly.)
I hear sometimes that profanity is a sign of reduced intelligence or limited vocabulary — to which I say, bad words are still words, after all, which means they are vocabulary. Profanity is a circus of language. Trapeze stunts! Lions eating lion-tamers! Motorcycles on fire jumping through hoops!
Some folks say, “You don’t need to use profanity,” which is true, and I agree, and sometimes I don’t. Actually, George Carlin said a pretty smart thing on this subject…
Yeah, that “You don’t need to; you’re a funny man, you don’t need that stuff” thing. Well, my argument is that you don’t need paprika or oregano or a few other things to make a stew, technically, either — but you make a better stew. If you’re inclined to make a stew of that type, “seasoning” helps.
I know from Bill Cosby’s work, he clearly feels that way, and I’ve always felt that by taking that stand and developing a body of work that didn’t include it, Cosby can never now choose to use that language. I, however, can choose either.
I can do six minutes on The Tonight Show with none of that in it — I can use other parts of my tool kit that work for me; I’m good at them, too, and can do that no problem — but I can also be more of my street-corner self elsewhere, with language of the street if I want to do that, too.
Why should I deprive myself of a small but important part of language that my fellow humans have developed? Why not use all of what we’ve developed to communicate with?
Sometimes I overdo it intentionally, because it has an effect of its own. I think there are a lot of sentences where the adjective “fucking — I guess it’s a gerund, isn’t it? — sometimes just makes the joke work better. And not because they’re laughing at the word “fuck” but because including that word may make the language of a sentence more powerful, and it just gets in there better. It just gets in that channel you’ve got open with a harder punch, you know? That’s why people use it in life — because it makes something they’re trying to say stronger; it gives a particular effect.
I think the folks who choose to deny that part of our language have limited themselves. And that’s fine; that’s good. Good choice over there…but I’m just fine over here.
Anyway, all this is a precursor to:
Hey! Have a random compound-vulgarity generator!
The way this works is simple:
a) Begin with one of the Ten Base Vulgarities.
b) Couple that with a Random Noun or use one of the twenty I’ve provided.
c) Frontload with as many Vulgar Modifiers as you so choose.
d) Get on your roof and yell your glorious new profanity to passing cars.
Step One: The Ten Base Vulgarities
- Tit (or Tits)
Roll a d10 or use a random number generator to get your word.
* Now, a couple notes on what constitutes vulgarity. The ten naughty words I’ve chosen are not meant to indicate judgment against these words — I don’t consider these words bad in the sense that they shouldn’t be used. I think it’s a bit absurd that any of these are considered vulgar, really — “shit” is bad, but “poop” is mostly okay? Whatever. I also don’t think dildo is a bad word — it just happens to sound funny when paired with random nouns.
Some will note that “douche” is not strictly vulgar and has sexist connotations, though others will argue that the actual practice of douching is not recommended or healthy for most people. I’ve included it here because its pairing in compound vulgarities is, quite frankly, classic.
I have not included the nuclear-bomb profanity of “cunt.” An argument for its inclusion might be that a) I’ve included “cock” and I feel like “cunt” is its natural pairing and b) because I’ve heard British and Aussie folk use it with great gusto and delight. PLUS JAMES JOYCE USED IT.
Regardless, it is the lightning rod of dirty words. You are free to add it into the list as you see fit.
You are of course encouraged to add your own vulgarities to the list as you see fit, expanding the base vulgarities beyond these ten. (These words alone possess a wide variety of variations: crap, cum, anus, dick, nuts, prick, snatch, hell, dong, wang, and on and on. I think some vulgarities are too jerky to be included, and that includes any word that tends to be explicitly racist or sexist or otherwise bigoted.)
Step Two: Random Noun Selection
You will find a most excellent random noun generator right here.
In fact, using step one and step two already, I have gotten:
Or you can also roll a d10 or use the random number generator on this list of 20 nouns:
Fucktube? Douche Blizzard! TURD-MAGNET. (Or Turd Magnate?) Jizz-Donkey.
And so on, and so forth.
Step Three: Add 0-100 Vulgar Modifiers
Choose another semi-vulgar or vaguely-insulting random noun:
Then add a verb from this list:
Or a verb from this list:
Which could lead to such indelicate phrases as:
“Butt-Dongled, Elf-Pecked Jizz-Wizard!”
Or: “Pube-Shellacked, Jelly-Sucking Fuck-Turnip!”
Good times. Good times.
Step Four: Yell It At Passersby
Just don’t tell them I told you to do that.
Step Five: Have A Merry Motherfucking Christmas!
You biscuit-whistling, nipple-nibbling, goblin-hustled, gourd-whipped douche-tubes, you!
As a quick administrative note:
You will find me here tomorrow and at the Angry Robot site talking about Christmas and Death (no, really). Then I won’t be back until next week when I’ll talk about that most foul-mouthed of cantankerous psychics, Miriam Black, who returns in her third adventure, The Cormorant.