The first time I ever heard anyone say “fuck” out loud was when I was in middle-school, 7th grade. I was 13 years old, 1964, small town Texas. We were at a slumber party at Twinkle’s house and after freezing everyone’s bras, we were horsing around outside and suddenly, out of Twinkle’s mouth, flew the forbidden word, “FUCK”. You could see it floating above everyone’s heads in dark cloudy letters. F—U—C—K
Everything stopped. The Earth stopped rotating. Birds stopped chirping. You could have heard a pin drop. We all stared. With that slip of a tongue, she gave permission to say this word. A word I’d seen written in public places by teenage hooligans, but never spoken. Certainly not by my parents or any of their friends. I’m not sure how, but we knew that some words were not to be spoken out loud.
I was stunned. My world suddenly cracked open in a way I didn’t realize then, but do now. I was liberated, my jaw unlocked. I could say a word out loud that before only existed in my thoughts. It took me several more years to use it as a verbal spice to pepper a conversation or written communication. And it wasn’t just that word. It was a joyous freedom-of-expression, power-of-language, moment of realization. I’m still staring at Twinkle.
If you’re wondering, Twinkle looked exactly like what her name implied. She was pretty and petit, twitchy with wild curly hair, a thin boy-like body and was crack-you-up funny. I suspect she hasn’t changed all that much.
It’s taken me this many years to realize I owe Twinkle a debt of gratitude. Thank you, Twinkle, wherever you are, darlin’, for setting me free.