Photo Courtesy of Darwin Bell

Photo Courtesy of Darwin Bell

When pretty much everything that’s fun is bad for you, what’s left? I mean you can’t grill stuff anymore because charred meat is carcinogenic. Anything white—flour, sugar, cocaine—is a no-no, unless you want candida or a collapsed septum. Buying cheap clothes kills people in Third-World countries. Hell, the list gets longer every day even before you add the legacy sins like smoking, drinking and unprotected sex onto the throbbing pile of verbotens.

Swearing is one of the few adult pleasures left in our hyper-cautious, squeaky-clean society. Not only is swearing as satisfying as sipping a Jim Beam on the rocks, studies have shown that cussing offers stress- and pain-relief. (Take that Kripalu Yoga.)

I love to swear and consider it to be a staple in my daily dialogue. Sadly, over the years, both at work and in my private life, I’ve found that others don’t enjoy my colourful vocabulary as much as I do. Perhaps it’s a gender thing or that there’s a disconnect between the words and the persona. I have actually seen people physically recoil when I drop some choice phrases into the conversation. Not the effect I’m going for. Today I still swear all the time, just not out loud. (I worry about one day having dental surgery under ‘twilight’ anesthesia releasing my repressed foul-mouth genie out of the bottle and I’ll babble a blue streak.)

Swearing, like drinking and driving, (though not drinking and driving), is a fine consolation prize for the added responsibilities of adulthood. Therefore, it’s not for kiddies. When I was a kid, swearing was considered very, very bad and just not done. I rarely heard adults swear. An occasional ‘heck’, not even a ‘hell’ or a ‘shit’. Swear words never appeared in newspapers, magazines or books. (Unless it was The Happy Hooker, a 1970s bestseller by Xaviera Hollander which greatly expanded, not only my filthy vocabulary but my filthy imagination too.)

Today swearing is like spring pollen. It’s in the air and it gets into everything. No wonder young kids cuss like truckers, or the 2.0 version, rappers. Many a time I’ll be riding home on the bus, reading the Old Farmers’ Almanac or knitting a tea cozy when I overhear these tiny things, barely bigger than their school packs, letting it rip with motherf—ing this and cocksucking that. They don’t appear mad or even terribly excited, it’s just filler for them. What a shame too, because they’ve turned these sharp and electric words into mere wallpaper.

There’s been a lot of commentary recently about young kids swearing. Once that potty-mouthed genie is out of the bottle— and she comes out earlier these days than in yonder years— kids need to be coached to treat those words like kryptonite: a little goes a long way. The expression, ‘A gentleman is never rude except on purpose’ applies here. If you’re going to drop the f-bomb, make sure it serves a purpose.


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