I would not characterize myself as a particularly precocious child. I would rather just say I was curious – but curiosity is an instinct. It was about the third grade, when I was about eight years old and, having learned the alphabet, and just beginning to study the Language Arts, that I became curious about dirty words. There were certain cuss words that were simply forbidden in our house. These same dirty words were also forbidden in school. These dirty words were commonly heard in the streets and it was almost like the kids had split personalities – polite and respectful at home or in school, but having filthy, potty mouths on the street. Mostly though, these dirty words were only forbidden for use by us children.
I became exceedingly curious about just what it was that made certain words so dirty and thus forbidden. I made me a list. I wrote down all the dirty words I’d ever heard of or could think up. I studied my dirty word list. I gave a great deal of thought to that dirty word list. Having recently learned to use a dictionary, I looked them all up. I was stymied by the fact that the F-word was so dirty (and yet so multifunctional and utilitarian) that it wasn’t even allowed in the dictionary. As I said, I was just eight years old; and in the course of doing the laundry, my mother found the list of dirty words in my pocket.