Friday, March 24, 2006

Ten dirty words that shouldn't be...

1) PENETRATE: This word takes a wholly pleasant activity and makes it sound a military campaign. It’s too clinical, too needlessly aggressive: you might as well talk about “deploying” your “platoon” to the “breach” and “exchanging fire”. I firmly believe, in the interests of a more peaceful world, we ought to agree to replace this martial mindset with expressions that recall sea exploration, a la Jacques Costeau. No longer shall there be any “penetration” or “insertion” or even–the most ghastly of all–“entering”, but instead we will speak warmly of “piloting the love submarine” through the “warm currents” into “the Marinara trench”. Note how poetic all that sounds, how romantic. You can thank me later.

2) STROKE: This is a perfect example of what I’m getting at. The word itself has nothing to do with its object. You can stroke something and have it be a perfectly family-friendly act. That adorable puppy, for instance, or your own jaw. Stroke away, stroke on: no moral censors can rain their condemnation on your wild and shameless stroking because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Just as no one will gawk at you when you fondle your car keys or gasp in horror when you let your participles dangle.

3) FLACCID: I really like this word. It’s a great insult. If I were to say, for instance, that Bill O’Reilly’s new book is utterly flaccid, I’m not only casting aspersions on his opinions and writing ability, I’m also slyly implying that he’s impotent. You can’t beat that.

4) SUPPLE: Nowadays, this word is ONLY used to describe parts of the female anatomy. What else is supple? Is a felt hat supple? Is a banana? How about those kittens? Are they supple? No, we’ve made it so that only breasts and thighs and asses are supple. Were I not so into all those things, this would seem like an unfair limiting of a pretty nice word.

5) SUCKLE: This is a filthy, horrid word which should only be used in private with those you love. The word “suck”, however, continues to teeter on the threshold of idiomatic dirtiness. What keeps it (barely) in the “clean” camp, strangely enough, is the expression “that sucks”. This used to be a vulgar thing to say, but now even the Teletubbies can squeak it out and no one raises an eyebrow. “Suckle”, on the other hand, is irredeemably nasty. That’s part of the magic of our language, that the addition of a simple “-le” can add new dimensions of smut to a word.

6) MOIST: Back when I was growing up, I knew a girl who hated the word “moist”. The filthiest profanities were fine with her, but if you described something as “moist”, she’d cringe and make a face like the spit in her mouth had just turned to pure lemon juice. As soon as we figured this out, there was no stopping us. We’d loudly and repeatedly point out the moistness of any damp object we came across. “Gosh, these cookies sure are moist!” or “The dog’s been out in the rain and now he’s all moist!” or “Be sure to moisten your hands after you use the toilet!”, on and on and on for something like three years. Man, were we funny back then or what?

7) FINGER: Back in college, the process by which our archaic internet system would check whether someone had any new e-mails was called “fingering”. So you’d be sitting in your dorm room with the cute girl from your art history class, studying the Rococo period, and you’d be at the computer and she’d say “Could you finger me?” and you’d giggle nervously and she’d giggle nervously and then, as she read her new messages, you’d stare longingly at her for as long as you could get away with.

8) NAUGHTY: The word “naughty” is obnoxious. It’s also kind of a paradox. If you say, “Oooh, I’ve been naughty!”, you probably haven’t been naughty at all. Truly naughty people wouldn’t say the word “naughty” even if you threatened to confiscate their sex toys.

9) MOUNT: As a verb, not as a geographic designation. You know why no one says “I mounted the staircase and retired to bed” anymore? Because somewhere in our evolutionary coding, the human race grew tired of being giggled at by our collective thirteen-year-old brother. That’s true. Ask a scientist.

10) SCREW: This is an eroticized term that should be rendered chaste once more. When you screw something into something else, you use an implement to spin it around and around until it burrows into the post or board or whatever. That’s just basic carpentry. When people have sex, however, they might do all manner of things, but they rarely spin. For one, our country is seriously out of shape and spinning while engaged in the act of romantic congress takes a certain athleticism that most people lack. If your love life involves a whole lot of spinning, you are either (a) lying or (b) urged to e-mail me at insomniacreporter-at-hotmail-dot-com. But I digress.