You suck!

Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2010

I saw this advertisement in the real estate section of the Chicago Tribune last Sunday. I remember when the word “suck” was a swear word! Perhaps I’m just on the verge of becoming a grumpy old man, but maybe that’s the reason I still remember when “suck” was offensive. So imagine my surprise when I saw this ad.

When I was growing up back in the 1960s, an age before political correctness had swept the land, people would purposefully insult each other. No holds barred. If someone had a physical deformity or a mental defect, that was exactly what the insulting party focused on. Racial slurs were not only permitted, but wholeheartedly encouraged.

But getting back to the word “suck,” most people who use the word today don’t even realize why they’re using it. Once, one of my students said, “Exams suck!” and many of the other students in the class agreed. She had a quizzical look on her face after she said it. Then, she said, “What does that even mean?” It seems no one knows what “suck” even means nowadays. No wonder I hear it on the radio and TV all the time. That’s because no one knows the history of the word “suck.”

But getting back to the 1960s, if someone wanted to insult you, they would–in so many words–say that you performed fellatio, back in an era when oral sex was frowned upon. The main offense was to insult someone’s manhood by implying he was homosexual. If someone did something stupid–and just about everything qualified as being “something stupid”–the person who didn’t like what you did would say, “You blow!” Sometimes people would hurl the insult to pedestrians as they drove by. Sometimes it was incorporated into everyday conversation: “Why aren’t you inviting Allouicious to your party?” “Because Allouicious blows!”

Somewhere along the line, “blow” received fierce competition from “suck.” Both words referred to the same sexual act of fellatio. The only point of contention seemed to hinge on the direction of air flow. But both terms were equally insulting in a homophobic manner. No one argued that! If you did, people would not only say, “You blow!”, but also, “You suck!” It was the great philosophical debate of my generation. Is it better to blow or to suck?

Well, flash forward to the present, and the people using the word “suck” are unaware of the history of the word “suck” whenever they use it. Just think about it. Can exams really suck? Who wouldn’t like oral sex to relax during a grueling exam. If exams literally sucked, students would love taking exams. And, then afterwards, the students would smile and say, “Yeah, that exam really sucked!”

¡Ask a Mexican!

The politically incorrect guide to Mexicans.

I recently read the book ¡Ask a Mexican! by Gustavo Arellano. Even though I consider myself to be of the Mexican persuasion, I learned so much about Mexicans! I didn’t realize how little I knew about Mexicans despite the fact that I am Mexican. Well, after reading this book, I underwent another identity crisis about my being American and mi mexicanidad. I am fully fluent in Spanish and English, but I don’t feel that I speak either language like a native speaker! Perhaps that’s just me being me whenever I read about Mexicans writing about Mexicans.

Anyway, this politically incorrect book provides “questions and answers about our spiciest Americans” such as: Why aren’t there Mexicans on Star Trek? Will Mexicans eat anything without  hot sauce? How come so many Mexicans send their money to Mexico? Why do Mexicans swim in the ocean with their clothes on? What part of illegal don’t Mexicans understand?

I really enjoyed reading the book because I learned a lot of new swear words in Spanish that only Mexicans use because they invented them. Mexicans are known worldwide for using the most profanities of all Spanish speakers in their everyday speech–I really should learn this new vocabulary so that I may curse fluently the next time I go to Mexico. Actually, there’s a very good chance that I’ll probably meet a Mexican before I come back home tonight, so I should memorize these words immediately. I find it ironic that people who don’t speak Spanish listen to the busboys, landscapers, or laborers swearing at each other and then think that Spanish is a beautiful language. I’ve listened to these Mexicans “communicating” and at least every fourth word is a profanity! However, the language does sound beautiful and elegant because they are speaking a romance language.