Char: …so Rach asked why it was all right for him to say that, but not her. He answered without hesitation, “because I’m a grown-assed man, and your brain hasn’t finished cooking.” She looked to her dad, who shrugged and said, “Well, he’s not wrong, sweetheart. Your pre-frontal lobe cortex is still in development, areas of the brain that control logic—” and that’s when my dad cut him off with, “You can be a fucking drag sometimes, Glowboy.” It might have been inappropriate, but even Ian laughed.
[*How we got on the topic: after dealing with a very judgmental woman in an indie writers’ group, who—without knowing much about any of the other participants—declared that all who used the word “fuck” and any variation of it to be classless twits devoid of intelligence, anyone with tattoos to be classless heathens headed straight for Hell and deserved damnation, and anyone who sports piercings (of any kind), wildly dyed hair, or “improperly styled hair” to be classless thugs who should not be spoken to. She may be at an upcoming publishers and indie writer’s workshop this month meeting in Anaheim; this later prompted Murf to tell me (in regards to dyeing my hair) “…the first time she rolls her eyes, tell her that stick up her ass is antithetical to her so-called Christian, giving lifestyle, and your hair is, at the very least (and unlike her online sermons), doing good in the world.” It just rolled on from there.]
—whether or not to make a New Year’s resolution to cut out swearing. I’m not one to make absolute resolutions, like lose 50 pounds or go to the gym 3 times a week; I prefer to set more attainable goals, like eat better, move more, give more. The only goal I would likely set where words are concerned would be to write gooder.
I am not likely to ever agree to change the way I express myself; on paper I choose words with more care than what tumbles out of my mouth, but in both cases I will say what I mean, even if I drop a “frak” instead of its more colorful cousin.
(Battlestar Gallactica fans may be dismayed to find out that their beloved word “frak”—or “frakk” as it is sometimes spelled—did not originate with the series. I’m not sure where it came from or exactly how long ago, but it was the choice F-bomb alternative at BYU well over 30 years ago, and had been in use far longer than that. Zoobies—BYU students—are not supposed to swear. Not “real” swear words, anyhow. As is the case with most people, when disallowed one thing, another pops up as a substitute, and for whatever reasons, that seems to be all right with TIIC. )
Son of a biscuit eater.
Every time you spout off a substitution, clever or not, you’re still swearing. I know it; you know it even if you’re not willing to admit it to yourself. Much of the time, I substitute something else not because I’m refraining from the obvious word choice, but because it feels funnier. I tend to prefer a good FRAK to the tried and true F-bomb in blogs and other written forms; I prefer to work my asterisk off, not my ass. I tend to write, “well…carp” instead of crap, but I know my intention and I’m not trying to fool anyone.
If I drop a hammer on my toe, I’m sure as hell not going to let loose a string of Pollyanna Sweet Sunshine words. Oh, goodness gracious, that stings! No. I’m going to swear as hard as my inner sailor can swear—and I’ll feel better for it. Hell, yes, swearing can ease pain. Why would I not use that specific duct tape in my psychological tool belt?
And hey, it turns out that people who swear tend to be more trustworthy and honest.
I am not unintelligent; I may lack smarts now and then, but I am not stupid. Nor do I lack creativity. Nor do I lack the capacity to find other words. I swear because I swear, it’s as simple as that. I swear because I understand that more often than not the use of watered down colloquialisms is a rather immature approach to the spoken language, an alternative that is appropriate for children, from whom we really don’t want to hear a string of ill-timed swear words—their brains aren’t finished cooking.
There’s nothing wrong with using the less adult language, not at all. I don’t find it off-putting if an adult chooses to use the more immature versions of the bluer words; we’re all immature sometimes. Sometimes that other word is the better choice.
I don’t find particular umbrage with a well-timed “Well…fuck.” (By the same token, if every other word out of your mouth is tinged blue, you probably do have issues with self-expression; issues not rooted in a lack of intelligence per se…my guess would be in anger.) A few months ago I sat in Starbucks and a guy walking by dropped his scone and uttered just that. Was I offended? No. It was appropriate to the situation. It also could have been any of a dozen other words; whatever popped out would have meant the same thing.
I do find umbrage with those who would look down their noses at others simply because of the use of a particular word. It’s rarely kind and it’s often hypocritical; face it, if you can’t abide by hearing or seeing “goddammit” but freely use something like “gal-dangit,” you’re engaging in a fair amount of hypocritical thinking. It means the same thing. If you freely say “damn” or “hell” but judge someone else for saying “shit” or “fuck,” you’re a hypocrite.
Words carry the weight of intention; the finger you point at someone for saying them carries the weight of judgment.
So pretty much, the next time you let slip an “oh, dammit!” and then think ill of the person you just heard utter, “that’s fucking awesome!” just stop and think about it. (Oh, and Matthew 7:1 and all that, in case you lean that way.)
I don’t have a swearing problem, mostly because it’s not my issue. So no, I will not resolve to stop swearing. I may make a goal, however, to do it more colorfully, because, hey, I can only use the word “asterisk” so many times, right?
Oh, and yes, the hair is going to be dyed soon. Crimson for the upcoming trip where we will pretend to be exchanging ideas about the turning tides of the publishing industry and how indie writers can attain better marketability while retaining rights and higher royalty distribution while sipping Red Stupid Drinks in Trader Sams, and purple for the St. Baldrick’s Shaving event. During both, I shall endeavor to display my tattoos, and offend as many uptight people as I can with my unrefined, headed-to-Hell lack of smart thinks.
Holy hell, I’m classy.