Cursing is also one of our most revered art forms, one that encourages personal expression the same way dance or painting does. I’ll never forget the joy, the sheer hope for the future, I experienced years ago when my best guy friend’s golden-haired sister, a seven-year-old with ice blue eyes and flushed, cupid-bowed mouth, delivered a veritable sonnet of verbal wrath upon him. “Fuck you, Bitchtitties!” she cried, one part Alvin the Chipmunk, one part Eddie-Murphy-before-he-started-sucking. "Fucking fuck!" I shed a single, silent tear of bliss that day, then started an 80s-movie style “slow clap” in the middle of their living room.
That being said, one of the items on my hitch list recently has been to curb my cursing. I will never abandon it entirely; there isn’t enough Jackie O./Miss Manners/Dear Abby anti-expletive propaganda in the world to make me forsake my birthright. But in the name of following up on self-improvement, I've tried to limit myself. Anyway, I was doing pretty well—no “fucks” during the morning meetings at work, no egging my wingmen on with “pussy” whenever they prepared to tap out before midnight, no describing of the office coffee as “fucking shit-piss.” I am, after all, a lady.
Everything was fine until the R train.
The R train incident was NOT my fault. Morning commutes, by land, sea or air, are ripe with cursing opportunities, and I’d been exceptionally good at not falling into the trap for about a week. As usual, I did what I always do: pick least crowded R transfer car, sit down, open book, read. On this morning, however, I made the error of (unknowingly) sitting near a homophobic jackoff. Which is where the trouble started. As I sat there, trying to meditate on the words of Richard Yates and the sounds of New York’s vibrant underground, all I could hear was this:
“Fucking faggots. Fucking dick-sucking fags can all burn in Hell. Yeah, you heard me, faggot, I don’t give a fuck. You’re gonna burn in Hell. And you can suck my dick, you little bitch.” I’m not making any of that up.
[Authors note: "And you can suck my dick?" Ahem. I will never cease to be surprised by how many “gay” statements homophobes make when they’re busy proving how un-gay they are.]
I looked up from my book to see that the Voice of Douche (no doubt attached to a truly, soul-crushingly tiny penis) belonged to a thirtysomething, thuggish Latino man, freshly lined-up from the barber shop and peacocking in enough gold to make Mr. T blush (way to live the stereotype, dude). His friend, a heavyset guy in a fresh new hoodie covered in rainbow dollar signs [again, gay allusions] sat terrier-like nearby.
Douche was delivering his monologue to an audience of one, a gorgeous, most-likely-gay hipster with James Dean hair and a purple summer scarf reading the collected works of Ginsberg. He was doing an awfully good job of keeping the book over his face, which I couldn’t help but admire—especially given that, had anyone been talking to me like that, I’d already be straddled across their chest like a jockey, jamming each page of Ginsberg’s “Howl” down the asshole's throat while simultaneously reciting each movement (you know, for dramatic emphasis).
I listened to this crap from 14th Street to 28th, trying to stay out of it. Douche was already making a fool of himself, I reasoned. I didn’t need to say anything. This wasn’t my fight. Besides, the guy was a huge Douche (meaning tall and wide), possibly mentally ill and potentially carrying a glock. [Note: I do not know what a glock is. But I know guys dressed like Douche and hailing from my section of Brooklyn frequently carry them.]
Then, right before 34th Street, something snapped.
I stood up in the moving car, teetered in my stilettos, and wobbled down the aisle toward Douche, Terrier-Man and James Dean, clutching the poles for support like a drunk stripper. I knew my biggest obstacle would be that petite white girls teetering in stilettos and carrying a brown paper lunch bag filled with tuna salad aren’t intimidating. So I did what any true Jersey girl does---I pulled a blow dart from my arsenal, loaded it and fired.
“Excuse me? Um, excuse me?” But Douche couldn’t hear me because he was too busy popping off at the mouth. “Hel-lo?!” Nothing.
“Hey, Papi?!” I finally tried. (Alex is first gen Puerto Rican. I learned half a decade ago that using your most coquettish voice while calling out “papi” is a surefire way to get a Latino man’s attention, regardless of whether you’re trying to bed him or just get him to shut the fuck up. If you think that's offensive, you haven't had the pleasure of a Latin man yet and need to get on that.) Douche finally turned toward me, giving me slick "macho ma-cho maaaan" grin.
“Papi, hi, I know it’s none of my business, but...seriously? If you don’t shut the fuck up, I’m going to skull-fuck you so hard you’ll be begging to suck this kid’s cock by the time I’m done. 'kay?”
Douche opened his mouth to say something, but I was good and worked up, and cut him off with one of those militant hand-chops my grandpa used to do, where you slice your hand through the air violently. (It's a variation on "talk to the hand" that white girls carrying tuna salad can pull off, in a pinch.) "NO. SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.” Then I teetered back to my seat, ungracefully, and sat back down...and realized EVERYONE was staring a me.
Everyone, from the little Asian lady with her laundry to the business guy in the starched shirt sipping from a Starbucks cup. All eyes on me. As I sat, the middle-aged woman with the flower patterned blouse who had been sharing a row a seats with me got up and moved.
WTF? Douche and Terrier-Man can spurt-forth bigotry and hate at an innocent, scarf-wearing straphanger like a volcano, but I say I’m going to skull-fuck someone and I’m the offensive one? Some days I don’t get this city.
Idiocy got off at the next stop with a single “bitch” hurled at me during his exit, glaring from the platform until my skin burned. (Terrier-Man, incidentally, thought the whole exchange was hilarious.) James Dean pulled the book down low enough for me to see his stunning green eyes as I got off at 42nd, but never said a word.
So, the point of this story: EPIC FAIL on the “curb my cursing” hitch list item. I’ll have to start from scratch next week.
I did learn, however, that the combination of black stilettos, a tuna salad sandwich and the word “skull-fuck” before 9:30am can, occasionally, be just the blow-dart you need to stun even the most wild bushmen of the subway.