A WRITING EXERCISE
I do not remember whether I read about this writing exercise, whether someone told me about it, or it came from the voices in my head. The point is to pick a word at random, and write about that word and the ideas it generates.
I fan the pages of a dictionary, and randomly select gas. Since I am a seven-year-old trapped in a man’s body, I immediately think of farting. (Snicker. Snicker.)
We were not allowed to say “fart” in our house. My mother did not like that word. Instead of fart, we had to use the word “bop.”
“Ewwwww Mommy, Daddy did a bop!”
Mom said that “fart” was a bad word. This caused some confusion because it wasn’t a bad word in my friends’ houses. I thought bad words were universal. Apparently not.
If Mom did not like the word fart, then you can imagine how she felt about shit, piss and fuck. Taboo! Taboo! Taboo!
In my mother’s 80 years on this planet, I only heard her swear once. She said “shit.” I don’t remember what she said, but shit was in her sentence. I was in my teens and had done something to anger her. I remember feeling shocked and proud and the same time. How shocking to hear Mom swear, and proud that I was the only who caused her to do so. It only happened once.
My father never swore in front of us when we were young. His restraint lessened as we got older. He used shit, bullshit and goddamn occasionally. The one he used all the time was “Jesus Christ!” Dad was an atheist, but he certainly loved calling on the Lord.
Whenever Mom talked about Dad calling on the Lord, she said, “Your father said, ‘Cheese and rice.’ ” She would use that euphemism, too, especially when she watched the Toronto Blue Jays lose a baseball game.
Now I stop and look back over what I have written. Wow! All that because I took a dictionary and randomly selected the word gas.