Adam Rabasca mourns the loss of every Italian’s favorite word.
Jimmy Conway: They whacked him. They f***in’
Henry Hill: Aw, f***.
I love the f-word. I love it when modified by the words “mother” and “me.” I love it when combined with suffixes like -er, -ing, and -you. Because I’m Italian, I love the Italian version: f****la! I love saying “f*** off” in Italian: vaff****lo!
I’m confident EVERY Italian loves the f-word as much as I do. It’s is something so deeply encoded into Italian heritage that I’m sure it’s most commonly an Italian baby’s first word.
During the scene in Goodfellas when Tommy is incited to kill Billy Batts, I count about seventeen f-bombs. It’s only a couple minutes but the profuse usage of the f-word amounts to approximately ten percent of that short dialogue. The Internet Movie Database calculates that the f-word occurs 296 times, half of which are said by Joe Pesci’s character, averaging 2.04 f-bombs per minute.
See? Italians love the f-bomb. It’s perfect with its crescendoeing /f/ and hard /ck/ sounds.
When I was five, I asked my mother to demonstrate for me the correct way to write the letter “f” in cursive while she was lost in The Days of Our Lives. Unsuspecting of her innocent young babe, she presented, I practiced. Then, I asked her to teach me a “u” in script. She presented, I practiced. Calculating my strategy so as not to give myself away, I inquired about writing “k,” innocently skipping over “c.” Without missing a beat (or breaking her concentration on the soap), my mother quietly but definitively said, “Adam, knock it off.”
I went to play with my G.I. Joe figures so I could pretend to have them say the f-word.
There is absolutely no word like it. No word relieves such anger or stress quite like “f***.” It is so versatile that not only does it sufficiently act as a frustration reducer but it conveys disbelief, disgust, hatred, and pain. Add the gerund ending and you have a wonderfully illustrative adjective with which you may adequately describe someone you vehemently detest. I love the f-word!
So, why have I censored it every time it occurs in this post, even when it occurs in quotation?
I have a two-year-old who magically repeats all the words she’s not supposed to say. Apparently, the physical ability to demonstrate this restraint doesn’t occur until between ages 21 and 25 when the pre-frontal cortex fully develops, thus activating impulse control. Anyone not of age is prohibited from cursing.
I can’t even say “shoot” without my daughter repeating it. I could say, “I can’t believe I just drove all the way to the stupid supermarket and forgot the stinking milk,” and all she’ll hear and repeat, despite the fact that she is more than capable of reciting that entire statement, would be the words “stupid” and “stinking.” For a time, I thought she was actually saying “F*** it” in response to my direction to stop playing with her Little People farm animal set. I denied to my wife that I ever uttered such obscenities in her presence. Denial: Every father’s best defense.
So now, the one word I love, the word that relieves all stress, that sufficiently expresses my frustration, that facilitates the successful completion of IKEA furniture assembly, that accurately informs the driver in front of me of their actual speed, that notifies my wife that we don’t have enough money to pay the fuel bill, that one single-most favored word by my people, I can no longer say.
Even if I say it in Italian, she’ll try to teach it to her three-month-old sister.
Asterisks do not suffice. I want to yell it from my car as I drive down I95 in Thanksgiving traffic, out the window at the deer eating my hostas, at the f***nose who owned my house before me and allowed it to become infested with carpenter ants.
I suppose, however, sacrifices must be made in the rearing of a healthy human being. I’ll need to curb my enthusiasm for another 27 years, until my youngest is well into the age of majority. I’ll just need to not be Italian until then. Either that or avoid stubbing my toe.
No more kids, honey…I’m not sure I can make it.
Also read: The Proper Use of Profanity by Noah Brand
Image of man with paper note over his mouth courtesy of Shutterstock