NDJ:7 Janet Migdow, PhD

Fuck: A Love Story

Preamble: I started this program in October, 2008. My father died July 1st 2009. This one’s for him.

My father would be appalled, disgusted, more so just broken hearted that I would use such language. You, privileged you, went to a writer’s workshop and wrote a serious piece entitled Fuck? What misspent youth. Misspent money he means, on an instructor who would so encourage me. The sacred made profane.

It is not prudishness. Not rigidity or righteousness. It is a betrayal of him and my mother and their love.

Yes, I know I’m not supposed to talk about abstractions, but the truth is that my father was a great romantic and he did know deeply about love.

To fuck someone is to not care, to assault, to rip off their clothes, dig yourself into her body, a body, any body will do for a fuck; you don’t need the her for annihilation.

But love…. My father used to come home at the end of his usual twelve hour day, precisely at 6pm. He would come home filthy, not dirty. Good dirt is clean. It smells fresh. You can grow anything in it.

No filthy, stinking of fish and sweat and the greasy drops of defeat and rage dripping off his body. Then he would enter the door.

It was a tiny Formica tiled entry, about two and half feet square, just a landing between the steps down to the basement and the steps up to the kitchen.

My mother would meet him there, freshly laundered, dinner on the table. But before she took his disgusting clothes off his body and down to the laundry, because g-d forbid, he should walk into the house wearing those garments which bespoke of all the misery in his life– yes, before he took a shower and was meticulously cleaned up– he would lean over and kiss her.

Before I knew what a French kiss was…I knew what a French kiss was. I watched my father French kiss my mother upon his arrival home every day of my childhood.

This was the show: the only channel anyone wanted to watch at 6pm in my house.

My siblings and I, all four of us huddled around, lapping up love.

And like a snake shedding skin, my father would come awake. He had a lovely voice. He was particularly fond of Frank Sinatra.

And now, the now of back there, in this niche of memory, he is singing Frank, in his own mellow tenor and soon we are all, me and my sisters and brother, all over his sweaty body with his sharp, cutting, unshaved face and he is kissing us too…. No French kisses here. It’s just the warmth of his lips and his very strong, filthy arms hugging us all home.

And now, in the now of back here, I hear him whispering. Remember, I am still here.