“Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck” by Nkosi Ife Bandele
Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.
This week, Nkosi Ife Bandele’s daughter asks a lot of questions.
Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck
by Nkosi Ife Bandele
And so my nine-year-old discovered the word the other day. On the subway: a young woman, thoroughly exasperated by her fellow rude subway riders, recanted a story to male companion about how she shoved a typically preoccupied telecommunicator through the doorway because he was blocking her entry. “Excuse me . . . Excuse me . . . Damn, pay attention . . . Look up . . . Standing in the fucking way . . . Get the fuck outta the way, you stupid dumbass!” Now, of course the vulgar young woman—who came off like a stupid dumbass herself—had also said damn, stupid, and dumbass, but my daughter jumped on the word fuck.
“Pops, why do people use language like that—fuck? I mean, doesn’t that lady realize that children ride the train too? Why would she say that word fuck?”
Fuck, I love my kid! It’s just like her to get all self-righteous and then exploit the situation.
“I mean, fuck is a terrible word, isn’t it, Pops? I mean, you shouldn’t say fuck, right? Do you ever say fuck? I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say fuck. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mama say fuck either.”
She genuflected and became outraged.
“Jamal doesn’t even say fuck!” (Jamal is my teenage son who curses on occasion.)
The moment we arrived home, my daughter slung aside her backpack and told my wife the whole story.
“Mama, fuck is a terrible word, right? Can you believe that that woman on the train said fuck right in front of a little girl? I mean, you shouldn’t say fuck, right? Do you ever say fuck? I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say fuck. Pops never says fuck. Jamal doesn’t even say fuck!”
When my daughter insisted that I never say fuck, my wife shot me a look as if to say, You never say fuck to her, you fucker!
My son got his dose as soon as he opened the door, before he could even drop his basketball.
“Jamal, you don’t even say fuck!”
I caught my son’s ironic smile too. And then I tried to explain.
“I mean, yes, sweetie, it’s a bad word, but you know there’s lotsa bad words out there. This one may be the worst of the bad words, but anyway, it’s more about how you use a word, the context in which you use a word. You shouldn’t say, like, fuck you to anyone, or fuck in general.”
My wife, who openly calls me a bad parent, shook her head before interjecting.
“Just don’t say it, okay?”
We had our usual argument via incredulous looks—me insisting that we needed to explain, her insisting on the do as I say dictum.
My son tried to pick up the slack.
“See, what Pops is trying to say is that, if I say fuck you or get the fuck outta my face, then that’s wrong, but, you know, if I like jam my finger playing ball, and I’m like fuuuccckkk!!!, then that’s okay.”
My wife slapped her forehead in a slapstick manner after I shook my head in agreement with my son before trying to clarify further.
“I mean, sweetie, look, there are better ways to express oneself, ways that are more precise. There are limits to using profanity. Take Jamal’s example. He could say, Ouch, I jammed by finger, and now I am experiencing pain, so would someone please comfort me. That’s more accurate. Now we would know the actual source of his pain and how to help him. The woman on the train might have said to the other passenger, Excuse me, but it’s not a good idea to text message on a crowded train and block the doorway. That way the passenger might have learned something and would know not to do it again.”
My daughter went blank right after my bit about the limits of profanity, so I asked her if she understood all that I had been saying. She smiled and replied, “Yes, Daddy,” as she had learned to do whenever she felt the need to shut me the fuck up. And then finally something occurred to her.
“Can I call Grandma?”
NKOSI IFE BANDELE works as an adjunct professor at, like, every New York City university, teaching academic writing and the occasional literature course. He has three novels completed. His first novel, The Ape is Dead!, is available from Crimson Cloak Publishing in ebook form via Smashwords. Excerpts of this work appear in the Crimson Cloak Publishing anthology Love Matters, Akashic’s Terrible Twosdays series, Hobart Magazine, Crescendo City Magazine, and the collection of poetry and prose titled It’s Animal but Merciful published by the independent press great weather for MEDIA. Excerpts from Nkosi’s second novel, Scott Free, are featured in Moonshot magazine’s issue #5 and Akashic’s Thursdaze series. He is also the author of a third novel, The Beast, and the Writer’s Digest award–winning screenplay Love is Crazy. Nkosi lives in New York City. He has been published under the pen names Eshu Bandele and skoo d foo, da bom! His website, including his blog THAT N-WORD’S CRAZY!, is eshubandele.com. Visit his Facebook Fan Page here.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: May 17, 2016
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- Silent Pictures
- Simon’s Cat vs. the World
- Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene
- The Jesus Lizard Book
- Artificial Light
- Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy!
- What Else Is in the Teaches of Peaches – LIMITED EDITION SIGNED PACKAGE
- A Fictional History of the United States with Huge Chunks Missing
- Sale Nelson George Two Book Set
- Paradoxia: A Predator’s Diary
- Bronx Biannual: The Literary Journal of Urbane Urban Literature