Before I knew how to write, that is the word that I thought would open the gates to the Writing Pantheon for me. I guess I can blame a grade 9 teacher for it – Mr. Coetze was his name, I think. A young fellow, he was, well below 30, about my age now. Maybe he was filled with that same idealism I still harbour now, or perhaps he was but a witless fool who knew not his right foot from his left, but on that first session of the writing workshop he ran, he read to us the beginning pages of a novel, not a great novel mind you, but a published novel none the less. U-Turn was its name and it began with that one fragrant word, which Mr. Coetze read out loud, – “Fuck.”
We numbered thirteen in that class then. Boys and girls, some older and some younger, but all in all, hardly a number worth a real audience. But still, I will never forget that crippling hush that fell upon us thirteen when he said it – “Fuck.”
I, a fourteen year-old sci-fi-fed immigrant boy with little social prospects at that time, was then enthralled, enchanted some might say, by the simple power of the word. A single word. A single word birthed from such a holy context as a Book. A Printed Book! It was beyond me, how I, and twelve others sort of like me, could fall under such spell. Not that I thought of it that way then, I was merely struck dumb by the power of profanity, a profanity, that in some high-placed editor’s eyes found enough validity to warrant ink.
Fuck, I told myself. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Such prosaic placement of letters, yet such effect! In my Russian-bred mind it was such a trivial expression of the crass, the filth, the rape and the abuse that people endured upon themselves each day of any given month, endured so happily, so blindly, that the very mention of this ‘fuck’ brought upon furrowed eyebrows and condemning tongues. The where and when that I gestated in for my first twelve years, it saw nothing of that. We wore the dirt, the shit, the fact our parents drank without reprieve, as something common, and for a child of mere eleven to swear in words reserved for mining workers or long-haul fishermen was nothing strange. You would not believe the extent of colour a Slavic language can reach in that realm.
It was then, during that first creative writing class, just as I was preparing to scribble my first fan-fiction idiocracy, that I realized that these people, this new society I found myself in, they would only respond in human fashion, would only tear themselves out from under the blanket of petrified political correctness, if confronted by the very worst. So, instead of my Bradbury parody, that day I covered my notebook in the filth I would then live in for many years.