Oh, this post came at a most opportune time.
I have a book coming out in about a month, and it’s an odd hodgepodge of, well, me. You see, there’s the Sally that grew up in a small town and made very good grades and behaved very well after the age of five. (Ask my mom—she’ll tell you!) She went to a little white church and learned all of the hymns. Then she went to college and even kept going to church there. She doesn’t smoke, hasn’t done drugs, and didn’t drink until she was 21.
And then there’s the Sally who cusses like a sailor. No. There are times when sailors would probably plug their ears to escape the vitriol. I cuss when I’m happy or sad or mad. I would cuss in a box. I would cuss with a fox. Or in a boat or with a goat. . .
I think you get the picture.
This puts me in a pretty pickle because The Happy Hour Choir has some decidedly inspirational moments. And then there’s the cussing. Even worse? Bittersweet Creek is about my country farmers. They cuss even more.
I know I shouldn’t do it. It’s not ladylike for one thing. It’s not what nice people do. I’m supposedly showing how deficient I am in vocabulary. *cough* Bullshit *cough* I doubt very seriously that my blue streaks make my parents or husband proud, and it’s not really a habit I want to pass on to my children.
So, I asked myself, “Self, why do you cuss so damn much?” And my self came up with the following reasons:
5. There was that boyfriend who once remarked how much he liked the fact I didn’t cuss a lot. Yeah. About that. I may or may not have exerted my freedom from him in a litany of four-letter words. Huh. I would’ve thought that would’ve worn off by now.
4. As a student of the English language, I am mystified by how creative we are in our cursing. Take any curse word, and I bet you can shoehorn it into just about any part of speech. That’s a flexibility not every language enjoys. We owe it to ourselves to explore our native language’s fluidity, don’t you think?
3. It’s fun. Phrases like “shit fire and save the matches” amuse me. Add “bitches” to the end of just about anything, and it’s hilarious. See Bitches, Teacups! Also, don’t you really want to end your yoga classes with “Namaste, bitches!” You know you do.
2. It’s cathartic. Somehow “Dadblame it!” doesn’t really help me when I stub my toe. On the other hand, a long and drawn out “Son of a bitch” really helps me manage my pain. I swear it’s true. They should do scientific studies. I volunteer as tribute.
1. Here’s the real reason: some of my favorite people in this entire world curse. My Aunt Dot tried her darnedest not to cuss in front of me with some hilarious permutations like “Bullcorn.” I was supposed to be sleeping one night when her friend Dennis was talking about almost getting into a traffic accident and made the story more hilarious while repeating, “F*ck a duck!” over and over again. (I sometimes make this one “Fornicate with aquatic fowl” in an attempt to make it a bit more Twitter friendly. In related news, I’m also a fan of “defecate adobe.”) And, finally, a shout out to my father who has always enjoyed adding a blue word here and there to elicit a giggle. One day—as an adult, mind you—I said a certain word, and he responded with “You’ve got stuff in your mouth that I wouldn’t hold in my hand. Where’d you learn such things?” I narrowly avoided going all 80s PSA on him and shouting, “I learned it from listening to you, Dad!”
At any rate, if all of those people are cursing, I don’t think cursers go to hell. I could call out some closet cursers, but I won’t. I’ll just say that little pitchers may have big ears, but they also have big eyes. If I’ve been emulating Aunt Dot and Dennis and Daddy, it’s not really because they cuss. No, it’s because I like the way they treat other people and that shouldn’t be forgotten just because they have a colorful vocabulary.
So, cuss all you want, bitches!*
*As the pragmatic feminist I am, I understand that the word “bitch” can be problematic. Personally, I like to feel as though I am appropriating it. Already I don’t feel the sting when it’s hurled at me as an insult. And if I don’t feel the sting, then your insult hasn’t succeeded.