Flashback from 1996: Forbidden Language

This piece is from a writing class at YSU on 10-1-96. The assignment was to write about your first experience with forbidden language.


I am the youngest of four siblings. I am the baby. My two older brothers were teenagers when i was just starting Kindergarten. They knew all that was adult and spoke about it in whispers behind closed doors. My sister, my idol, a whopping two years my elder, decided that the time had come for us to mature. We snuck as softly as ants on a Jello-mold to eavesdrop on our older and wiser brothers.

And then, amidst a flurry of gestures and words, it happened. My sister stifled a gasp. It was just a finger. Like any other. But this one… this one was definitely bad.

My sister, my idol, giggled about it when back in the safety of our room. I asked “Why?” I asked “How?” “It’s only a finger,” I said over again. She tried to explain, but i was barely five… the concept beyond my understanding.

“I’m asking Mom.”

She pleaded. She begged. Told me to hush. But i was stubborn in my ignorance.

I walked right up to Mom as she vacuumed the rug. Tap, tap on her leg was all that it took as she turned ’round to see a smiling me giving her the bird.

Laurie Esposito Harley
Here is young me, in all of my innocence.
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