Tag Archives: parents

#101: Don’t Fear The F Word

I vividly remember the first time I encountered the f word. I was six, newly proficient on a two-wheeler, taking an independent spin around the block when there it was, chalked right on the asphalt. I had never heard or seen this word before, but it must mean something important, I thought, to be written there in such big letters.

So I rode home and asked my father, who was sitting on our front steps, what “fuck” meant. And the next thing I knew, my father walloped me across the face.

Dad didn’t hit: That’s part of the reason his slap still stings nearly half a century later. In fact, Dad rarely even got mad. And my parents, New Yorkers who’d grown up in rough neighborhoods, freely used “bad words” — shit, goddamn, bitch, and bastard — all the time.

But fuck was different, even apart from that slap in the face. It wasn’t spoken, it wasn’t written, you didn’t hear it on TV or in the lyrics of songs. It wasn’t used as a curse, not even by adults who had been drinking when they didn’t think the kids were listening, and it wasn’t used to describe the sexual act either.

In fact, the f word was for decades literally outlawed in both the U.S. and Britain, and was omitted from standard dictionaries and encyclopedias. A typically wonderful history of the word can be found in The Online Etymological Dictionary, and Wikipedia and Youtube also include educational information on the use and misuse of the f word over time.

But when did everyone from the mom next door to the guy you’re doing a business deal with start saying “fucking” and “I’m fucked” and “fucked-up” as routinely as people once said “darn” or “screw”? When did teenage kids and their parents start saying it to each other without so much as a blink, never mind a slap?

Maybe around the time Tony Soprano appeared on HBO or Four Weddings and a Funeral hit the movie theatres or Notorious B.I.G. started singing on the radio. Yes, I’m blaming the media, not for creating the trend, but for letting us all know it was okay to use that particular word now and again. And again.

Does that mean that, in the interest of not acting old, you should use the f word more liberally? I find it quite expressive, myself. Though I can never say it without flinching, just a little bit.

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#68: Mooch Off Your Parents

With more “kids” living longer than ever with their parents, why shouldn’t you, in the interest of acting younger, join the trend? And it’s not only a home you can mooch (or sponge, bum, leech, or scab) off mom and dad, but food, furniture, vacations, clothing, and actual cash money.

Catherine Finn, who is a bona fide futurist with a Washington firm called Social Technologies, advises those who don’t want to act old: “Be over-dependent on your parents. Have them lend you money or buy you something you really don’t need. Go a step further and move in with your parents. Then complain about how terrible it is to live with your parents.”

Some useful things you can do with your time and money once mom and dad are footing the bill: Get an MFA in poetry, explaining to your parents that this will eventually lead to a lucrative career in teaching other people to write poetry. Start a rock band, which will definitely hit it big any day now. Invest in Marc Jacobs clothing, which will make you look amazingly cool for two months, at which point you’ll have to throw it all out and start over. Become a rich and famous blogger, citing me as a role model.

If your parents are so elderly that they’re dependent on you, or if they’re uncool enough to have actually died, then your only hope is to try and get adopted by some nice elderly couple who would allow you to mooch in exchange for watching Jeopardy with them while you eat dinner and getting up on the ladder to clean out the gutters because you know Dad can’t do that anymore. However, as an older orphan I tried to get adopted once, and I’m sorry to tell you it didn’t work out.

What if your grownup kids are already mooching off you? Here’s the plan: You all move in with your parents. Then, late at night, when Josh and Jess are out clubbing, and Mom and Dad are upstairs in a martini-and-Percocet-induced haze, you sneak out, run as fast and far as you can, and leave no forwarding address. There comes a point when even the hardest-core moochacha needs her independence.

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