The Real C Word

I recently discovered the ultimate litmus test for determining how innocent someone truly is. I was hanging out with a younger cousin of mine  when he froze and turned to me.

“You just said the C word!”

At first I panicked because we were playing NBA 2K at the time and I can say some pretty vile stuff when it comes to Xbox, but like any responsible adult, I turned to him and just straight up denied it. 1

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.”

This went on for a while so I’ll just skip ahead and cut to the part where my cousin eventually provided a little more info.

“Yes, you just said c-r-a-p.”

A giant wave of relief washed over me. It was like finding out I didn’t have cancer or something.

“Oh crap! I thought you meant the real C word!”

In hindsight I’ll admit that probably wasn’t the best response for that particular situation. But it’s crazy because my nephew is twenty six and at that age I definitely knew what the real C word was. 2 By this point I’d really opened up Pandora’s box and now my cousin really wanted to know.

“What’s the real C word?”

As soon as the words left his lips my aunt/his mom walked into the room. And if there was ever a look that captured the all of the vulgarness of the C word it was the look that she gave me at that moment. She didn’t say anything but her eyes basically screamed “How dare you try to corrupt the mind of my innocent 13 year old child, you motherfucking cunt.” 3

The next thing she did was probably, no definitely, the single greatest bit of parenting I’ve ever seen. My little 13 year old cousin asks his Mom what the real C word is and she looks at him and without missing a beat goes

“The real C word? The real C word is..cancer.”

Amazing..I don’t know if becoming a parent just instantly makes you a better liar or something but I was really blown away. There’s no way I would have been able to come up with that. I probably would’ve tried to stall for a bit before just going “Fuck it. There comes a time where every boy becomes a man anyway…the word is cunt son.. the word is cunt.” 4

Part of me hopes his parents are able to keep him that innocent forever. Another part of me laments the fact that I missed out on a really transformative coming of age moment. Every barmitzvah should have a section where the kid learns the real C word.

  1. It’s almost an involuntary reflex at this point.
  2. Totally kidding, he’s actually thirteen but I’m pretty sure I still knew at that age. He’s also really tall for his age which makes it easy to forget how young he is.
  3. Sorry, C word  just wouldn’t capture how mad she was. As vile as it may seem at times, it’s only just a word.
  4. My thinking is if I was going to have to deal with the wrath of my aunt anyway I might as well have truly earned it. Almost like a technical foul in basketball.