Disclaimer* One of the founding principles and original premises of TMF was to discuss the nicer words that start with the letter F; in an effort to reclaim the inherent goodness of F and to reverse some of the damage caused by that certain word that shall not be named. The article you are about to read discusses the word — this ‘queen mother of all bad words’ as the author puts it — with all of the tact and nuance you’d expect from the following tall author (tall = trustworthy). Please enjoy the following piece from the ever-insightful, always-delightful Tall Rick.
By: Tall Rick
I still remember the first time we met.
There are some words you learn on an existential level. Words that seem to have always been part of your dictum. Others are learned in an instant – or at least their introduction seems to have made an indelible mark. This is a story of the latter.
I was five years old, and my mother had toted us to our local public library. The “us” in this particular case included myself and Jacinda Frisbee – a free-spirited, red-haired girl whose mother was infamous locally for driving a pale yellow Ford Pinto. Jacinda wasn’t your average 5 year old. Average doesn’t suffice when your name is Jacinda Frisbee. Or when your mother drives a Pinto.
After I tired of perusing the shelves for illustrated books on dinosaurs and miscellaneous neolithic human forebears, I took a leisurely stroll to the boys room. As I evacuated my juvenile bladder of its contents (likely 12 fluid ounces of McDonald’s patented orange “drink”), I encountered what would become a new addition to my developing vocabulary.
It was a strange word. A fascinating word. One I could easily pronounce, due in no small part to my early adoption and mastery of phonics. But it was a word I hadn’t seen or heard previously. In fact, my parochial education prided itself on the mastery of the English lexicon and verbal acumen. But this word had never been introduced on any flashcard in my kindergarten class. I gazed at the word itself (part of a short, two-word imperative), and finished what I had begun.
When it was time to check out our books from the counter, I asked my mother a simple, and straightforward question: “Mom, what does ‘f*** you’ mean?”
My mother was a fair-skinned woman. Though she was born and had been reared in Miami, she was Scandinavian in heritage – a people known mostly for blonde hair, towering height, love of fiskbullar (basically fish balls) and kåldolmar, and a stubborn affinity for death metal. But my simple query turned my mother an almost translucent white.
Paralyzed with fear and shock, it was all she could do to mutter out an incoherent, “uhh… errrr… umm.” Sensing my mother needed rescuing, 5-year-old, world-wise, red-haired, daughter of a Pinto-driving hippie Jacinda Frisbee simply replied, “It means ‘I hate you.’”
And all these years later I haven’t heard a better definition for that phrase since I first heard it. Thank you Jacinda Frisbee. I am forever indebted.