Today was a beautiful day; even though it is still technically winter, it felt just like spring. The sun was high in the sky, and a few flowers dared to bloom. I went for a walk along the river, on the esplanade. It was crowded - everybody, it seems, had enough life left in them to get out and enjoy a day like this. There were bikers, skaters, couples strolling arm in arm. For a moment, it was paradise. After a while, I sat down on a bench overlooking the river. A few people sat on the bench next to me. I can just hear their conversation:
"Man, its a nice day out."
"Yeah, man, motherfuckin' spring is here!"
At first, this little phrase sounded incongruous. "Spring is here" is an almost theatrical bit of speech, treading the line between the poetic and the obvious. To extend the theatrical metaphor a little bit, the addition of obscenity shifted the dialogue from Shakespeare to Mamet. The grace of these words was not removed, but it was changed. Really, though, the change was more subtle than it might have been. There is a kind of poetry to obscenity, and for people who have truly mastered the art of "bad" language, it is a chorus of staccato timing, like beat poetry or scat.
Every once in a while I'll come across someone on the street who obviously has Tourette's or some other ticcing disorder. I feel bad for them, but I can't help but watch and listen. There's something beautiful and terrible about the slipping convulsions they can turn into a walk. The bitten off slurps and yowls and occasional "fuck", "shit", or "mothershitcockfuckass" form a pad that all of the other city noise can sit on. On some level, I know I shouldn't stare or gawk. There's nothing in my observation that points to disrespect, though. On the contrary, I respect these people a great deal. I've always wanted to record them, to videotape them and discover the underlying patterns behind their compulsions. But of course that would be rude.
Sometimes swearing can sound very forced. I know a lot of people who almost never swear, and when they do (if they feel they have to add a particular emphasis to what they're saying) it comes out as static and awkward as a misplaced comma in a sentence. It doesn't flow. It doesn't have any music. It just stops.
I'll bet that there are a lot of people in the world who would take offense to my glorification of what they consider to be "foul language". To them, I wish I could just say "fuck you". But what good would that do? Wouldn't that just strenghten their position, give them ammunition to say just how hurtful and awful obscenity is? Instead, I think I should just say "okay". Let them believe that only the most proper words can really be beautiful. They don't know what they're missing.