Thursday, December 5, 2013

Words--Good, Bad and Ugly

BIBLIOPHILE: noun a person who collects or has a great love of books.

Yep, that's me. And, by association a bibliophile would also be a lover of words. That's me, too. Just ask my husband. He says women have a certain number of words that have to come out each day and if they don't, we'll burst. Don't you feel like that sometimes? That if you don't speak the words will catapult out tumbling, rolling, wrecking havoc of their own accord? Can't you just see them in there scheming, plotting, giggling to get out and do their worst? Or best?

Words are powerful. More powerful than we realize. Words create. Words destroy. Words inspire. Words discourage.

When I was very young, six or seven, I learned a new word. I'm sure, considering my environment, I had heard it before, but it had never caught my attention. I was with my parents in a smokey little bar on the corner a couple blocks from our apartment. It seemed as if the word just flew out of someone's mouth, glided through the air, slipped into my ears and stuck in my brain.

There it circled round and round, repeating itself. I wondered outside and sat on the curb under the steetlight. I loved words even then and knew how to sound them out to arrive at an approximate spelling. I had found a small rock that I carried in my pocket that served as make-do chalk.

I sounded out the word and wrote: F *** U *** K on the sidewalk. Then I wrote it again. And, again. AND AGAIN until the entire section of cement was covered with my new word. When there was no more room I tried to fill the sky with it. I shouted it over and over until I was sure it had reached the stars.

Bar patrons coming and going smiled and laughed at my antics. I didn't care. I had a new word.

I began to notice the word everywhere in every discourse in every situation spoken by children and adults. Why hadn't I heard it before. It was pervasive. I also noticed it accompanied anger, violence, drunkenness, insolence, vulgarity and rudeness of every kind. I came to hate my new word. I loathed the sound of it. I cringed and shied away every time it was spoken. It's very utterance conjured ugly situations and abhorrent memories.

As I grew older I deliberately put myself out of reach of that word by associating with folks who never said it. Later in my life I could go days, weeks, months without so much as a whisper of that word.

Then, I'm not really sure when it happened, the word creeped slowly back into my life. I noticed it being said in casual conversation by folks who didn't spend all their free time in a bar. I heard it in the business world at work where it was once taboo to use profanity. And, by teens, pre-teens and, gasp, elementary children and double-gasp, teachers. I heard it at the gas station, the grocery store, on the escalator, on the television, at the movies. It was everywhere. And, each time I heard it, I cringed inside.

This morning I was reading one of my FAVORITE blogs. I had received her newsletter and as usual I clicked on over to her blog. She is a delightful, insightful lady. She is a mentor to thousands--tens of thousands--of women all over the world. She is artful and quirky and smart. Her advice leads countless women to success in their personal lives as well as their businesses. I love her.

Except: that word is showing up more and more frequently in her writings. Today's post was exceptionally full of it. My question is WHY??? There are SO many other ways of saying things. There are so MANY words out there just waiting to be used in good meaningful inspiring ways. And, she is such a good meaningful inspiring person. But, I think her vocabulary could stand an upgrade.

Maybe we should have a contest to see what ALTERNATIVES we can come up with.



  1. I so agree. But it should be noted that people who use this word, which I think is a verb, (??) have a very limited vocabulary. I think there should be tickets written for the use of it. Although I think it may be a common word used by law enforcement too! We're just ancient I guess.


  2. Tickets....that's a good one. Kind of reminds me of the Swear jar!!