Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Blue Streak

On the last page of Vanity Fair every month is "Proust's Questionnaire", in which some celebrity (Shirley MacLaine! Gore Vidal! Liza Minelli!) answers an identical list of queries. "What's your favorite journey?" ("New York to Paris, unquestionably") "What do you most value in a man?" ("Courage, strength and a sense of humor") "What do you most value in a woman?" ("Beauty, grace and a sense of humor") and my very favorite, "What's your most overused phrase?"

To that, I realized the other day, after trying to thread a needle three times unsuccessfully, my own answer, were Vanity Fair ever to come calling, would be "God fucking damn it." I say it a lot. Mostly in my head or at least under my breath, but a lot. Almost any time I'm confronted with frustration great or small, my first response is "God fucking damn it" before I plunge in and try to right the wrong.

It's a ridiculous collection of words. What does it mean, beyond stringing together as much blasphemy as possible? Packing in the foul? But, for whatever reason, when I'm faced with the kid's dirty, discarded clothing on the floor of their bedroom or a duvet I just put on the comforter inside-out, or a trail of small, muddy footprints leading from the front door down the hall, it's somehow satisfying, somehow comforting to unleash this particular compact package of profanity.

I was washing the dishes the other day - it seems like I'm always washing the dishes - when a glass slipped out of my pink rubber-gloved hand and shattered in the sink. "God fucking damn it," I breathed. Lana, puzzling through her math homework at the counter looked up in surprise and amusement. I grinned at her. "Silly, right?" I said, "Silly thing to say?"

"God fucking damn it", she said, grinning, too, abandoning her arithmetic to retrieve a paper bag in which to put the shards.

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