language

Jun. 14th, 2013 12:28 am
violetcheetah: (daisy tongue)
I wrote this at the first Write Here Write Now workshop I attended back in April.  Fair warning: there's a great deal of cursing — in fact, that's kind of the whole point.  

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I never swore before I came to college. I had literally said the f-word once in my life, and that was when I was six and mimicking my father, with no idea what it meant. I mean, the word "mother" was right there in the phrase, so it couldn't be bad, right? I didn't say hell even when I meant the place, because even though I knew that wasn't really swearing, it still felt wrong on my tongue. And then, freshman year in college, I was roommates with Heather.

She sewed, and cooked, and baked, all the things that were too girly for me to do growing up. The first month I knew her, she got drafted into costume designing for the Musical Theatre Guild's production of Oklahoma. 15 pairs of bloomers. She bought a sewing machine at the Woolworth's, and it was about what you'd expect for a sewing machine from Woolworth's. I sat on my bed trying to figure out my calculus homework while she fought with the bobbins.

"God dammit! Mother fucking, ass-sucking piece of shit!"

I started laughing out of shock. I hadn't heard that kind of litany of curses from anyone but my father. But there was such beauty. I'd never noticed the rhyme of "fucking" and "sucking" before. And "ass-sucking": what a perfect, perfect image: the excrement implied but never stated outright. She was hunched over the machine, a pair of pink bloomers hanging off the back of the table, telling it to do things that would only be possible if it were an incredibly limber dog. I would have still been laughing if I could have inhaled. I had to get up from my seat and lie in fetal position on the floor before I could draw in a breath and shriek with giggles.

She came back to campus early after Christmas break that year, and she taught me how to play Parcheesi while I got paid to watch the front desk at the dorm even though there was pretty much no one coming or going. There was some confusion over the rules of the game, it had been so long since she played. Did you get to send your opponent's piece back to start — and also get to move twenty spaces — only if your piece landed exactly on the other person's piece, or just by passing their piece? Fuckit, let's try the second way and see what happens.

What happened was three-hour games, with pieces getting sent back to square one with a frequency that brought out a kind of gleeful rage I'd never had playing board games with my mother and brother. There was a new level of creativity in the curses. She passed one of my pieces, sent it home and got 20 spaces, which sent her past a second of my pieces, that one back to home and another 20 spaces for her. "Fuck you! Fuck you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" At one point, she blew on her hands cupped around the dice, shook them while chanting, "Six. Six. Six." I put my hands on my hips, even though I was sitting down, and nagged, "Six, six, six, that's all you ever think about." She snorted. "What are you, Satan's wife?" "Well, that makes you Satan, chickie." It was my turn, and I rolled high enough to pass one of her pieces. "And now I shall send your demon spawn back into the fires from which they came!"

My shift was over at 2 a.m., but we stayed up and played through the night. At 8 in the morning, the guy came down to take the morning shift, and we headed upstairs to sleep, passing through the lounge, where a middle-aged woman I'd never seen managed to somehow glare at us while simultaneously avoiding looking at us. Halfway up the stairs, I muttered, "Who the hell was that?" Heather said, "You know Lisa from the third floor?" "The fundy girl?" "Yup. That's her mom."



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Violet Wilson

October 2016

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