Growing up, my family did not curse. Well, they still don't. I remember one occasion when I was 14 or so... As water gushed from the pipes beneath our bathroom sink, I heard my dad utter one short, vehement oath. Sh!t! It scared the living crap out of me. My dad does not swear.
When my mom swears, you know it's time to run. Her swears aren't bad, but the vehemence behind the strongest word she dares lets you know that she is pissed. Goll-dangit!! I'm sure she's said stronger words over the years, but those traumatic moments are blocked from my memory.
As Sarah and I got older, our language, as does that of every teenager, grew in color and creativity. Sarah is far more creative than I, and far less discriminate in her public usage. Additionally, she holds no qualms in employing a word that I will not tolerate. Let's just say it starts with C and its usage jars me to the bone.
Wait. Let me adjust that last statement. There is one occasion in which I will tolerate the C-word, and that is only because it is so well deserved.
I don't want you to get the idea that swearing offends me, because it does not. I live with a soldier who spices his conversation with casual expletives, and when he gets together with his brothers, one is hard-pressed to snatch the non-curses from the flow of conversation. Their favorite, of course, is the versatile eff bomb.
In fact, a book dedicated to the topic sits on our shelf: The Book of F. It contains pages and pages of compound words and phrases that can be used as nouns, verbs, adjectives, interjections, and pretty much any other operator. Not surprisingly, most of the words and phrases have a military origin.
The book was perused at a recent family function, and I was told that I was f*ck-struck, or obsessed with the idea of reproduction. After the sting of the words faded a bit, I had to admit that it was pretty funny. Because really, cursing is funny!
Lady Looney is approaching 35 years of service at this shipyard. She began her career as a young woman on the tools, and this factor in addition to her deep South childhood contributes to her very colorful vocabulary. It is not unusual for her to announce that she is going to have a f*cking salad for lunch. If someone does not answer her phone call immediately, they are automatically dubbed an a$$hole.
At first, these oaths did not bother me in the least. I was used to swearing, and hers had so little venom that I actually found it cute. But lately, her words seem to be more and more bitter. Each curse is like a little arrow of negativity that flies across the room and stabs me with irritation. Why does she find it so necessary to fling hateful words at every tiny thing that annoys her?
The other day she aimed her deluge at her computer.
"SARS? What the f*ck is f*cking SARS? Heather, did you have to take a g*dd@mn SARS class?"
I was having a trying day, myself, and I wanted to tell her to shut the f*ck up with all the swearing. But I have to keep the peace. Instead I deadpanned, "No. In fact, I didn't take any g*dd@mn classes at all. I only took regular ones."
I had a professor, Dr. Moburg, who loved to curse. She would not allow us to use milder euphemisms such as frick, heck or dang because, she maintained, what we really mean is f*ck, hell and damn, and we should just say what we mean in the first place. Why beat around the bush?
I think that more than anything, Dr. Moburg just liked to be shocking and controversial. She is responsible for the most high-frequency use of the C-word I have ever heard--by means of the Vagina Monologues. Once again, cursing is funny. Dr. Moburg looks and sounds exactly like a female version of the Sicilian from The Princess Bride. So picture the Sicilian as a woman with reading glasses perched on the tip of her nose, quoting the C-word over and over and over again with obvious delight.
What do you think? Does swearing offend you? Are you aware of your surroundings when you curse? What is your favorite oath? Do you think my mom will be offended when she reads this?