I was just thinking, I wonder how many people can remember the first time they said the f-word. I wonder because I understand it is not such a big deal to most people, but I can, and vividly.
I was at theater camp. It was the summer institute of the nation's most beloved all-black theater, and I only got to attend a day camp so far from home because my mother worked nearby. It was in the city, and most, though not all, of the kids attending were very much from the inner-city. I was very, very much not. And also overprotected. And slightly terrified when I heard about some of the "adventures" of these children, many of whom were younger than me.
But I loved theater, and I definitely can get along with anyone if I, and they, keep an open mind. So I was sticking with it and determined to win my fellow campers over by being nice and trying not to stick out more than I already did.
It came time to read a play aloud to practice scoring the script. It was an excellent piece on a teacher who chose to work at a public school in The Bronx. I was reading the role of one of the students, all of whom were really tough pupils. It wasn't easy, reading aloud a vernacular I rarely heard, much less saw translated to paper, but I struggled through it. Some of my fellow campers struggled too. Others hardly sounded any different than usual.
Then, I saw it. It was a few lines ahead. The fourth grader (or so) I was playing had a line with more than one f-word in it. My thought process went a little like this:
OMG (goodness, not God, of course), the f-word! Should I really say that out loud? Maybe they want me to skip over it, like in middle school.
Stupid, stupid. Mariah, this is theater. And it is a normal part of most people's vocabulary!
Yes, but not mine...
Yeah, but you can't look like such a goody-two-shoes in front of these people. Do you want to make friends? You are already too white and suburban and innocent.
Yeah, because saying the f-word will convince them that I'm not... I can't say that word. I can't even think it.
Are you morally opposed?
No, it just sounds funny.
You're right, it kind of does. haha. No, but seriously, it will sound bad if you do, but think about how it will sound if you don't.
AHH, but I've never said it before.
Well, I don't know, practice in your head or something because you are going to have to now.
Even the practice in my head sounded awkward.
We got to my line. The word felt funny in my mouth, but we kept moving. I did end up making friends at camp, but most of them weren't the ones who were super-comfy with the f-word.
Incidentally, this year in acting class, I picked a heart-wrenching monologue for my final... that just happened to include a lot of profanity. I hadn't really used the f-word much since the camp, and my main criticism was- you guessed it-I sound awkward saying fuck. Which is why I haven't typed it this whole time.
Because this is my voice. And wasn't that awkward?