Thursday, May 14, 2015


Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems to me that, even within my lifetime, the letter F has become best known as the euphemism for the heavy lifting of the single most reprehensible, offensive, not to mention the dirtiest word in the English language. I hear people saying things like this all the time: "I told him to get the F out." "What the F are you talking about?" "It's none of your F-in' business." And so forth. It's possible this is mere misperception on my part, as I recall similarly believing at one time that "motherfucker" was a term invented in the '70s, which happened to be when I came of age and adults started swearing around me. (Which reminds me—children, please stop reading this now.) Indeed, so common is it that more and more one sees it rendered as "eff" (get the eff out, none of your effin' business, etc.). I guess there's always been a whiff of the lewd in the way that F makes you bite into your own lower lip, however gently. Consider:fabulous flourishes often leave Flora's friends floored. There's a degree of erotic play embedded in the sounds of those words and the things one's mouth must do to say them. That's F all over for you! It's a fine, sturdy specimen of a letter. I like how straightforward and unpretentious it is about doing what it says it will do. Stands up straight and tall, points east. It's got a spine, balance and poise; no need for the lower bar of the capital E. No nonsense, no exceptions. It's the life of the party too. F makes such a popular sound that G and P have thrown in with H to get a piece of that action: "laugh," "phlogiston," etc. But F plays no such shape-shifting pronunciation-changing games as those, save winsomely doubling up on itself now and then (off, gaff, miff), which is the only hint that it may suffer any insecurities at all, or now and then pretending to be V, as in "of." Is there any such thing as a ludicrous "silent" F? No, I think not—it is always that touch of the front teeth on the lower lip. F represents not only the dirtiest word ever invented in the history of humanity, by the way, but also serves as the disgrace of failure in our education system. F is for failure. F is for flunk. F is for you're fired dumb fuck. But F is also for forget, helping with the kindness of putting all of that behind us and moving on. F is also for flute and it is even a musical note itself (the one, as it happens, for those in the Sound of Music know, that is a long long way to run, on the C major scale anyway). F—for fine folks everywhere.

1 comment:

  1. My kids, 40 and 37, say "eff" more often than not, despite the fact that their parents say "fuck" on a regular basis. Kids these days!