Recently, there’s been an addition of a witty, sexy British man into my life. (I’ll pause, so
you I can picture me tangled up in the sheets with Hugh Grant.)
… *whew* … Okay, so…. We recently had a discussion about the c-word. I think we all know how much more common it is across the pond than it is here in the States. While I certainly enjoy this word from time-to-time, he is of the opinion that the stigma it carries should be dropped here, and we should roll around in the splendor of truly free speech.
I’m not so sure I agree. While the basis of this conversation was to ensure that he wouldn’t be screaming it at the television in front of my 8-year old (porn is about as scary as I want my conversations with her to be!), it’s got me thinking about how we relate to it in general. One of the reasons I respect the word, I think, is because of its vulgar nature, and not in spite of it. Germaine Greer once said, “it is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock.”
For demonstration purposes, I’m going to relate the conversation to you, but everywhere we used the C-word, I’m going to replace it with a much more innocuous word. Like.. Jolly Rancher. That’ll do. Here goes:
HIM: … and I played soccer and rugby in grammar school. Of course, I was the one down by the goal, smoking cigarettes and calling everyone Jolly Ranchers.
ME: Ha! So bad!
HIM: It’s true. It’s just how it is in soccer. Even when you’re just watching it.
ME: Hmmm, that could be a bit of a problem. Can you control yourself, moderately? Like… Can you refrain from yelling Jolly Rancher at the TV while Monkeyface is within earshot?
HIM: What?! Why? It’s just a word. The stigma is American, in England it’s everywhere.
ME: I know that, but… okay. Hear me out. Picture 5 years from now, and you have a child. A beautiful baby daughter. Do you want her to say Jolly Rancher? Probably not. Same reason I don’t really want Monkey to say it.
HIM: *devilish grin here* But… her mama says it. And it’s quite nice.
ME: Completely missing my point, Casanova. I am fully grown, and there are a number of things that I do that I’d rather Monkeyface not ever do. Or at least not until she’s older. And even then, I don’t want to HEAR them. Jolly Rancher is low on that list, but it’s on it.
HIM: Hmmmm… Can she just go outside and play during soccer matches, then?
ME: We can try that. But during the times that she isn’t, I can’t have some crazypants Brit screaming Jolly Rancher at the TV because someone has made a bad play, or a bad call, or.. whatever. I’m not saying you can’t rage at the TV, we’ll just have to find you a new word… One that won’t cause me to have a conversation with Monkeyface that will instantly age me 10 years.
HIM: *laugh* Alright, alright. I won’t yell Jolly Rancher at the TV. But I can still say it when she’s not around, right?
ME: Even Jolly Rancher has a time and a place.
******* Later, this conversation took place between him and his friend *******
HIM: I have a friend that needs to understand why John Terry is a Jolly Rancher, and I’d like you to summarize his list of atrocities so that I can show her.
FRIEND: lol, wow. Where to start? Terrible haircut is what started my hatred. The fact that he is a racist bastard, a bully. He shagged his teammate’s wife. His mother was busted for shop lifting; his dad was busted for dealing coke. Plus he is the captain of Chelsea FC who are a pack of Jolly Ranchers to start off with, so that makes him Captain Jolly Rancher.
HIM: Well I hope this will be enough to convince her that JT is a Jolly Rancher of the highest order, and deserves death.
Captain Jolly Rancher! Hahahahahaha. He should wear a cape!
So… for them, it rolls as easily off the tongue as “asshole” or “douchebag” rolls off of ours. So, I would agree with the argument that the power of the English language is only as powerful as we allow it to be. I would agree, except on one count: Where do you go from here?
When I am angry with someone and I want to relay that to someone, I might say, “Man, the cashier in the grocery store today was such a bitch. She wouldn’t take my double coupons, so I had to pay $0.40 more for the can of peaches. What a jackass.” Those words demonstrate my anger, and that I dislike that woman, right?
Because I keep my Jolly Rancher usage in check for times when I really think that someone is terrible. Example: “Man. Those zombies. What a bunch of Jolly Ranchers. ATE MY BRAINS. Who the fuck do they think they are?” (This is the best I can do, I can’t honestly remember the last time I was so pissed off, I called someone a Jolly Rancher. Though, I’m sure, if some of my friends racked their brains, they could remember, and comment on this post, to call me out.)
The point being… If you go all Jolly Rancher this and Jolly Rancher that, how do I know when you really mean it? What gets my attention enough to think “oohhhhh… He’s REALLY mad now. He pulled out the big boy words!”
Jolly Rancher always gets my attention. I like that about it.
How do YOU feel about it? Are you a liberal Jolly Rancher user? Are you numb to it? Does it still shock you? Have you stripped it of its power, or do you still hold it in reserve? Leave me a comment – let’s get it all out there.
UPDATE: I’ve been informed that I’m sexist by one of the participants in the above conversation, because as an American, I use DICK, but draw the line at Jolly Rancher. I’ll own that. Vagina being the root of all power, and penis being a dime a dozen – I am A-OKAY with this assessment. 😉