Saw one of my sources for Bearcats Rising the other day at a UC basketball game. He was one of my more colorful (and, thus, one of my favorite) interviews – my favorite quote that I used by him was the ever-popular, “What a clusterfuck.” And I made sure to include in the book that he actually lowered his voice when telling the best stories because he didn’t want his kids to overhear his college exploits.
He told me he really enjoyed the final product, but he also said that – partially because of quotes like the one above that he gave me – he couldn’t let his 10-year old son read the book quite yet. I laughed, and after I said goodbye, I thought to myself, “Is that a good thing? Or should I be worried that I’m losing a small piece of my readership because I didn’t censor the tawdriest of quotes?” I’ve actually heard from a few people – my wife, for one – who thought my book had too many curse words in it (all of which, I should point out, were contained by quotation marks).
But I don’t feel bad about it. That’s what the people said. That’s how college football players talk. That’s how college football coaches speak to their players (Brian Kelly to UC quarterback Ben Mauk after giving him the starting job before the 2007 season: “Now don’t fuck it up.”). That’s real life.
If 10-year-olds can’t read the book right now, so be it. But I’ll add this: I read Ball Four and The Bronx Zoo when I was young. I saw the Breakfast Club when it came out in movie theaters in the mid-1980s. I curse around my parents now, and they laugh.
None of that made me a lesser man. None of it f—-d me up.