I’ve been swapping languages with a friend of mine. He desperately wants to improve his facility with English. And for some odd reason he thought I could help him. Poor guy. But when he asked, I told him he’s in luck. Mi Espanol es muy malo. Hablo como un nino. I made a bargain with him. If he’d teach me Spanish, I’d teach him English.
The cool thing is, that way, we’re both the learner and the teacher. He speaks English to me and I speak Spanish to him. We both sound like idiots. But there’s no need to be embarrassed because we’re getting better together. The moments when he gets frustrated with himself are balanced out by all the times he laughs at my ridiculous conjugations and my oddly constructed sentences that sound like something a Venezuelan spambot would tweet.
When some people speak a foreign language they make it sound really damn sexy. When I speak Spanish it sounds like a drunk parrot is reading the Madrid phone book. It’s not sexy.
The sad thing is, it’s not like Spanish is a difficult language to learn or pronounce. I kinda feel like I’m failing on both sides of the ledger. I’m butchering Spanish, which makes him think he’s not a good teacher. And I’m confusing him with English.
You see, I forgot about my mother tongue. It’s been so long since I learned the language, I overlooked a key point. The rules for English barely qualify as “rules.” They’re more like guidelines. Spanish is such a clean and ordered language. Once you can conjugate irregular verbs and gender your nouns, you’re golden. But English? It makes absolutely no fucking sense.
I keep trying to teach him, only because my friend really wants to learn. My main focus is not to confuse him. Things were going pretty well. That is, until the other day. He asked me a question I couldn’t answer. He asked:
“Z, como… When do you use… fuck?”
Shit. There’s no easy answer for that. We use it for everything. When I tried to tell him how and why people say “fuck” most of my answers required an accompanying hand gesture or for me to act out the scenario.
Have you ever tried to explain the word “fuck” to someone who’s learning to speak English? Good fucking luck!
Watching the light of learning go out in his eyes, I decided — fuck it — I pulled out my iPhone and googled “how do you use the word fuck.”
Of course, I found a video on YouTube. I bet you could find something on YouTube that’d teach you how to give a polar bear a perm and a penguin a pedicure. There are how-to-videos for EVERYTHING.
Now, before you watch this — three things to keep in mind:
First: It’s not the best quality video.
Second: It features an Indian guru with a very thick accent. In order to fully understand him, I transcribed his speech for you. That way you can read along as he talks. Or you can just read the transcription. Whatever.
Third: The funny bearded guru dude is a very curious fellow. He may, or may not have been, a cult leader.
With all that in mind… enjoy!
(transcription follows below)
“One of the most interesting words in the English language today is the word fuck.
It is a magical word. Just by sound it can describe pain, pleasure, hate and love.
In language it falls into many grammatical categories.
It can be used as a verb.
Both transitive: “John fucked Maddy.”
And intransitive: “Maddy was fucked by John.”
And as a noun: “Maddy is a fine fuck.”
It can be used as an adjective: “Maddy is fucking beautiful.”
As you can see there are not many words with the versatility of “fuck.”
Besides the sexual meaning there are also the following usages:
Ignorance: “Fuck if I know.”
Trouble: “I guess I’m fucked now.”
Fraud: “I got fucked at the used car lot.”
Aggression: “Fuck you!”
Displeasure: “What the fuck is going on?!”
Difficulty: “I can’t understand this fucking job.”
Incompetence: “He’s a fuck-off.”
Suspicion: “What the fuck are you doing?”
Enjoyment: “I had a fucking good time.”
Request: “Get the fuck out of here.”
Hostility: “I’m going to knock you’re fucking head off.”
Greeting: “How the fuck are you?”
Apathy: “Who gives a fuck?”
Innovation: “Get a bigger fucking hammer.”
Surprise: “Fuck! You scared the shit out of me.”
Anxiety: “Today is really fucked.”
And it is very handy, too.
If, every morning, you do it as a transcendental meditation… just when you get up — first thing.
Repeat the mantra: “Fuck you!” Five times. It clears your… (unintelligible)
[ends with audience’s LAUGHTER]
…Okay, so who exactly was that weird bearded guru dude?
From a little internet digging, I discovered his name is Osho. He was a controversial Indian love guru who grew famous in the ’70s and ’80s. At that time, on the west coast of America, from San Diego to Seattle, one could pick from a plethora of personal spiritual leaders. With so many to choose from, gurus needed to distinguish themselves. Osho was a master at that.
He decided it’d be best if he were a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll. Osho attracted tons of followers, mostly, confused Westerners looking for a fast track to enlightenment. Capitalizing on their spiritual longing, he made millions and millions of dollars. Like, he did really well.
These days, he’s dead. But don’t cry for him, Argentina. He’s been dead for twenty-three years. It’s okay. Like most cult leaders, he led a colorful life.
A few interesting facts about Osho:
He was born in India in 1931.
He reached enlightenment on Mar 21, 1953.
After that he went on to get a Masters degree.
To start his own religion, he synthesized multiple spiritual practices into a curious mélange of Christianity, Taoism, Jainism, Hinduism, Greek philosophy and of course, Buddhism.
In 1980, while giving a talk on his peculiar faith, he was knifed by someone who apparently believed Osho needed to be stabbed. Police failed in their investigation and the alleged Hindu fundamentalist perpetrator escaped justice.
Osho left India the next year.
He and his followers settled in… you guessed it… America! And they bought and occupied a 65,000 acre ranch in rural Oregon. It costs 6 million dollars, in 1980s money.
After living there for awhile, Osho and his followers learned how the legal system worked, mostly, because they were constantly running afoul of the law.
At one point, in order to suppress voter turnout for a local election some sources claim his followers spread Salmonella on salad bars in the area. There was a measure up for vote intended to limit Osho and his followers and their activities on their 65,000 acre ranch. Reports from the time claim 751 people were affected by the Salmonella poisoning.
Also, a pair of Osho’s top aides were charged with attempted murder on the guru’s personal physician. Later on, two other followers were tried and convicted for conspiracy to murder a local lawyer. Again it was something to do with the ongoing efforts to close Osho’s ranch.
After increased troubles with the law, and once his millions were safely deposited in Swiss banks, Osho returned to India, in 1987.
His health began to fail. And he died in 1990.
At his peak, Osho had 200,000 followers and 600 spiritual centers spreading his word. Fuck! And until now, I’d never heard of the guy.
Interesting sidenote: “Bhagwan” was Osho’s original first name. Some critics have said that Bhagwan means “Master of the Vagina.”
Is that true? Fuck if I know!
I just wanted to teach my friend how to say fuck and instead I ended up with Osho. But it worked. After we watched the video, my friend said, “Who is that fucking guy?”
I laughed. I considered it a major breakthrough. I said, “No se. Este hombre es un payaso.” We both laughed. It’s funny all the ways “fuck” brings folks together.