Monday, May 7, 2012

To be (profane) or not to be (profane)… that’s the F'n question:


Okay, holy roller friends and new acquaintances, hold on to your Sunday hats. I admit it. Although I’ve cleaned up my act quite a bit, I used to cuss like a sailor. And sometimes, I still do. I can lapse into Andrew Dice Cindy if I don’t watch myself. I could make a great Mafia wife or construction worker if I were so inclined. This can be a problem.


I have to determine (sometimes in a fraction of a second) when, where, and/or whether or not profanity is appropriate. Appropriate? Is it ever appropriate? It probably isn’t necessary, but alas, there are those times when I am overtaken by a particularly strong urge to let loose with an “appropriated” string of dirty words that would make my grandmas blush. Thank goodness they’re both dead. I don’t mean that I’m glad they’re dead, I mean I’m glad they’ll never hear it. You know what I mean!

It’s funny how I’ve changed through the years. I wasn’t a big curser when I was little. It isn’t like my parents walked around the house dropping the F-bomb. I rarely heard cussing at home. I think the shift came in high school when, for a short time, I hung out with some tough girls who used profanity like running water. My profane reign lasted a good 20 years and then, like so many other things in my life, I lost the urge to remain, well… profane.

I did not, however, become a goody-goody and I highly suspect that I never will. God knows this about me and he deals with it. I don’t try to fake it with him either. It’s no use with a deity. They’re smarter than that. They know your deepest, darkest secrets, even if you try to hide them. I know that “God is always with me,” so I try to keep my mouth from going afoul, but old habits die hard sometimes. Addictions are, meh, pretty easy. Control of my mouth, not so much. Good thing I’m held accountable by an even higher power… my children. How is it that they can make me feel like they’re the parent and I’m the child when I slip? It’s just not fair when your children parent you better than you parent them.

When a fellow respected writer, Rachel, asked me when I was going to guest on her blog, I asked her to tell me more because I had never guest posted before. She replied, “You have NEVER guest posted? Holy crap. You're so f***ing talented.” I giggled like a school girl at her comment, not because she used a curse word, but because she used the F-word as an adjective to describe how talented I was. I took it as the high compliment intended. I’m not just talented. I’m talented with effing emphasis.

She didn’t use asterisks in her word either. I wouldn’t expect her to! That wouldn’t be Rachel. Rachel cusses when she feels like cussing and that’s fine. I love Rachel just the way she is. I’m real. She’s real. I like her a lot. I told her she is my Princess Charming, asking me to the ball (to guest post) for the first time. She got a kick out of being deemed “PC.”

I appreciate Rachel’s profanity frequency as well. She doesn’t detonate F-bombs multiple times in every sentence for no good reason like my car mechanic. Honestly, I don’t think he knows how to formulate a sentence without a curse word in it. It’s as though he must insert them or he feels like he isn't using proper English. It’s effortless; a craft he’s mastered after years of practice and fine-tuning.

He’s cheap and good and honest with me, so I deal with it. Sometimes he doesn’t even charge me if it’s a really small repair or he doesn't find a problem I’m having him check out. Maybe that’s because of the boobs and all, I’m not sure. Here’s an example of a typical conversation with said mechanic:

Me: “Looks like it might rain today.”

Mechanic: “Yeah, I’ve gotta get the f’n lawn mower out before the f’n rain comes. I’ve got too much sh** to do around this G**damn f’n place to put it off.”

Me, giggling at the mastery of his curse placement: “Well, you’d better get it done then. Call me when you know something about the car.”

In my own writing, I’ve decided not to use curse words. I could. I want to sometimes, but it’s quite rare. Eliminating it from my writing is just a personal decision I’ve made for me and me alone. There are plenty of other authors, bloggers, and writers out there who pepper each piece freely with their own personal spice. I can hear it, I can read it, and I sometimes say it, but I don’t ever really feel the need to use it in my writing, so I just don’t, and that is all.

I tend to curse the most during times of panic, like these times:
  1. The toilet’s water supply line decided to burst in my bathroom at 3 a.m. I was home alone with no idea what to do and couldn't even tell where the water was originating. It was spraying wildly everywhere and seemed to be coming out of the floor somehow… yeah, I let ‘er rip. I must have looked like a raving lunatic in my pajamas in the middle of the night in the back yard trying to turn off the main water supply valve at the well, frantically screaming obscenities at the water Gods while my bathroom filled with water. Who knew you could just turn it off behind the toilet? Certainly not me. I know now, though! I sure know now...
  2. The time I was on my way to Christmas dinner and a pickup truck slid on ice, played tag with a semi, then came at me in “You’re it!” fashion and bounced off of me on his way to the ditch, I let loose with a scream of clear obcenity with the kids right there and closed my eyes for whatever happened next. It was all fine in the end, nobody hurt, and Santa still brought me gifts, but it might have been a Billy Bob Thornton Bad Santa, I’m not for sure.
  3. And just the other day, when I decorated my own finger with dripping molten lava (okay, I’m exaggerating, but it felt like molten lava) from a glue gun while doing a craft project, yup, I did it again. The glue melted to my finger! I mean, come on! Yeeeow.


I’m not perfect and I hope nobody expects me to be perfect. If nothing else, I’m a true work in progress. Pretty appropriate description for a writer, isn’t it? What’s my WIP? Me.

Keep it clean, but tell me… what’s the habit you love to hate about yourself? I love it when you tell me I’m not alone or a freak, so come on, humor me. I’ve humored you. It’s only fair.

44 comments:

  1. I don't  swear.  Never have.  But sometimes I wish I did :)

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  2. You are absolutely right - and God sees AND loves - and it is His business to change us, one brick at a time, as we cooperate in this grace business.  The old me would have likely not understood quite so well.  But she left with the Pharisees a while back, and the new me, blemishes and all, welcomes your humour and candour and takes it as it was meant - with a snort and an A-men sister! 

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  3. I used to be so good at it, I could probably write on of those black and yellow how-to books called, "Cursing for Dummies."

    Personally, I marvel at people who never did things like cuss, smoke, drink, etc. But my experiences with those things are what makes me who I am and gives me lots of writing material - ha!

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  4. Thank you, Melody Lowes! You just made my day right there!

    Snorting back, Cindy Brown...

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  5. Profanity:  Because sometimes "gosh darn it" and "meanie head" just won't cut it.

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  6. I'm impatient. I hate that. I am overly early with everything I do because I hate waiting and assume others hate it too. 

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  7. Well, when you make the trip to see the Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City, you can ask for patience. ;0)

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  8. I probably should!

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  9. I don't understand the excessive use of the F-word in today's culture. To me, it doesn't ADD, it takes away. What does it mean, anyway? Is it a lack of respect for yourself or for others? Is it an attempt to belong to something?I think it's a symptom of some sort of disease and not only does it degrade us as educated people, it's destroying the English language. When people use F--- all the time, it becomes such a habit, they lose the beauty of using all other adjectives. I heard it as a noun the other day. A guy, referring to a policeman, said he was a dumb F--k. I agreed with him, but there had to be a better way to to describe that dumb F--k. 

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  10. lol! I finally posted a review to Amazon on Let's Pretend This Never Happened, The Bloggess's new memoir.

    Well, she uses ALL those words. So I did, too. Amazon no likey. Finally, I changed s--tsnacks to tricksnacks, bad-A instead of the more sibilant version, and substituted "ladygarden" for the proper name beginning with V. It was f'n exhausting!

    My own bad habits? Well, the other day, I realized I had dressed in such a rush I was wearing inside-out underpants, and thought of YOU. *bats eyes* Dressing in a hurry, sometimes not even brushing my hair till I am in the car en route to work, those would be some of mine.

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  11. Lucille, I do agree that it is overused and I hate that, too. I love adjectives of the non-profane kind and coming up with creative ways to describe things. But some people only know how to use profanity to speak. I think I heard so much of it in my "wild days" that I've had almost enough for a lifetime. Sad, but we cannot stop the madness of the degradation of the English language. Just listen to popular songs in their unedited versions today, though, and you'll see where the young people get the urge and think it's okay.

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  12. I like "meanie head!"  I might curse once a year because really I don't see the need for it. People just seem so angry lately. Too much technology.  I also won't read books with excessive profanity. By excessive I mean more than one word.  Hmmm. I can't think of a habit I love to hate about myself. Maybe my obsession with the TV show FRIENDS?? 

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  13. Too funny, Beverly! I have people who think of me when they pee in the shower, when they eat chocolate truffles, and now when they put their underwear on inside out.

    And funny about the Amazon thing! "Ladygarden" is hilarious!

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  14. Well, having an obsession with Friends is far better than, say, an obsession with Mork & Mindy, right? Too much technology can breed excessive use of negative language, I believe, and I know that kids are affected by seeing it more EVERYWHERE they go! I check my kids' devices and accounts and if a friend is cussing too much, I block them. They get enough on the school bus, LOL!

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  15. "Ladygarden" is, I believe, The Bloggess's own invention, when they told her she couldn't say the V word on CNN.  Ridiculous, we can pass laws about 'em, but nobody can say the word that rhymes with angina in polite company? Really?

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  16. Oh my gosh, do yo watch New Girl? This is a hilarious piece about her trying to say the word "penis" 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrGir6DNbCc

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  17. Cindy, the key to using the F-bomb in humor writing is knowing exactly when to place to word in the sentence.  If you use it too much, it doesn't work.  Do you ever watch the Daily Show?  Jon Stewart has brilliant f-bomb placement!  Of course, Comedy Central bleeps him out, but you can read his lips and still crack up.  And, I think all of the examples you cited give you permission to use the f-bomb.  Oh, and here's another great example, you are not from Philly so you may not know this.  When the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, they had a big parade.  Then each member of the team got up to speak in front of hundreds of thousands of people viewing on TV and in person.  Most members of the team thanked the fans, etc... but one player, Chase Utley, got up and said, "World f...ing Champions!"  The crowd went nuts.  It was the best f-bomb use ever!!

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  18. Swearing is mine. Sounds bad to me when I her it sometimes, but I do it so much when I'm rushing and drop something. I'm always rushing, and dropping things, soooooo.

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  19. Judith MarshallMay 7, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    I love dropping the F-bomb just to see other people's reactions.  The older I get, the better I like saying it.  If I young woman swears, it seems crass, but when an old broad like me says it, it's laugh-out-loud funny  Old age is good for some things.    

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  20. You mean like when you rush when you're typing and you type "when I her" instead of "when I hear" in your comment? LOL, did I just make you cuss?

    I used to cuss if the car broke down or I broke a glass. I finally realized that I was letting it upset me way too much and just learned to sigh instead and give a look toward the offending item like "now why'd you just go and do that?" It's much calmer. :) Give it a try.

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  21. See? Jon Stewart is great and you are right, he is not so offensive that I would ever turn the TV off. Didn't know that about the Phillies either. Thanks for the story!

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  22. So that's why mom does that sometimes! LOL!

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  23. Hi Cindy, Fun times as always. One of your commenters has riled me a bit.

    I'm a city girl, with a city vocabulary spoken with a Boston accent. All of which I can play up or down—toned way down when I was a preschool teacher and nanny, played up when I'm with my homies. I also have a degree in writing and literature so I do have a panoply of words at my disposal.

    What I've taught my girls about language is appropriateness and sensitivity, but above all humility.

    While I don't believe tailoring my language to the sensitivities of those around me infringes on my freedom of speech, it has to be my choice, based on my values not imposed by others idea of what is "proper" whether it is the spoken word or written (a conversation for another day).

    I'm disturbed by the "...degrade us as educated people..." assertion which has the whiff of classism and racism, that kind of comment really chaps my ample ass.

    Personal preference is not the same as making wholesale statements about your perceived denigration of the English language. Proper English? There ain't any such animal. English is a common usage, evolving, living breathing entity. For example, Shakespeare was once "proper" English—and profanity, that's English too.

    English also doesn't belong to "...us educated people.." not sure who is being referred to there, apparently have different definitions of what educated means.

    Anywho. Cindy you asked what’s the habit you love to hate about yourself?  Sigh! I just have to share my opinion don't I? Sometimes I just wish I'd keep it to myself. But what fun is that?

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  24. I used to be quite militant about my f*****n' right to free speech on my blog... then I was accused of using it for defamation purposes.  This only made me more adamant about my right to write whatever the hell I wanted... then something unexpected happened - my blog became more popular than I ever hoped it to.  Now, I have to hold my tongue way more goddamn often than I would like.  I stick to the "less offensive" curse words, like those mentioned in this post.  I frig and I freak where I used to f***.  Since I have quite the sailor's mouth when among friends, it makes the time it takes to write a single post a little longer.  But it's worth not alienating any audience.  This is not to say that I never drop an "f-bomb".  I adore the term "f***tard", and sometimes it simply cannot be replaced with a euphemism.  I also hold down the shift key on my laptop and hammer on the number keys an awful lot -  ex/ *@%)@)&  )%@£&!!!   ...give it a shot.  It's surprisingly satisfying!
    Cheers :)
    scars

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  25. Heh. It's funny about the profanity. Much like you, I was brought up in a home where no one swore (although there was a lot of aggression and conflict)...it wasn't lady-like to swear. And like you, I once had some tough friends who swore all the time and it kinda felt good to let loose. These days, a problem with my computer guarantees a few good F-bombs.

    But, getting to to your question. Hmmmmm...I guess procrastination is a bad habit I love to hate. I've kind of learned how to make it work for me. But I still hate it.

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  26. My rule of thumb on cussing:  Always appropriate by yourself, in traffic, watching sports and when the dog farts.
    Other than that....there are more creative words than the standard swears word
    I laugh when some one strings 3 or 4 together...
    Funny peice....Cheers

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  27. I'll add that to my list of times that it's okay to curse.
    4) The dog farted.

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  28. I would love to have a "do it now" mentality. I'll get to working on that later.

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  29. Wow! Defamation purposes? That sounds exciting. Odd, you are the second person this week I've read who has said their favorite word is f***tard. I might have to consider adding that one to the f-bomb arsenal.

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  30. Oh, Lynne, darlin', I love to hear your opinion. 1) You say it well. 2) It's like a roller-coaster for me when I see that you've commented and it's a long one. I'm a little nervous and a little excited, but can't wait to take the ride. LOL!

    First, I must say that, as a walking dictionary, I am impressed when people use words I am not familiar with and "panoply" is one of them. Kudos to the degree in writing and literature! All I have is street cred and honors English classes in high school.

    Second, I love this line, "What I've taught my girls about language is appropriateness and sensitivity, but above all humility." That is just how I approach it also, but it sounds like a much smarter statement when you say it. :)

    Third, do you need to borrow some lotion? I hate that you have a chapped ass. Chapped hands or lips are bad enough, but take care of that arse, hon. Seriously, I do very much agree that educated people are allowed (if you will) to use curse words. For me, it all boils down to tact. Know when to let it flow and when to be respectful.

    Mmmm, and aren't you right about the language changing? I do agree with that also. We live in a society and culture where necessity and familiarity helped "Google it" become an action verb.

    Always enjoy your input, girl!

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  31. oh praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! Someone who can admit that the F-bomb explodes every once in a while!  I try so hard to keep a guard over my mouth and watch over the door of my lips... but sometimes (just like the damn dog!) the old useful words manage to fly out before I can shut the door. 

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  32. Haha! You are not alone. You are never alone...

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  33. A half hour flat. Ha! You said boobs.  And yes. we get our winky (from the Albanian, wei nke, or hound of the eastern fjord) squashed flat in our annual check up. You didn't know that? Holy crap! Yes, it's part of the examination. The doctor lays your [SLANG TERM] out on a table and drops the Oxford English Dictionary on it! If you cry, you have one corner of your man card clipped. It's excruciating.

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  34. Replying to "Death" is the strangest thing I will do all day, by the way. I just have to ask, is this Chris of Death by Children? I hope so, because if not, I am responding to the reaper, which is precisely what I'm hoping to avoid.

    Hilarious comments, Death!

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  35. Well you did once live in Effingham.  Coincidence?  I think not.  :)

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  36. I know! I actually did think of that when I was writing the post, but left it out. I thought about finding that song about it too.

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  37. I am sorry, but I must decline to comment on your post about cursing. I am deeply not offended.

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  38. Chris, you are one of my biggest fans. Hope I don't ever offend. Or if I do, that I will be forgiven ;0)

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  39. It's true that I am a rather large man, so I probably am one of your biggest fans. ;-) (Hey, it's almost 1:00 AM here, and whaddiya want from me at an hour like this, huh? lol)

    Offend me? Not gonna happen, cause I'm virtually unoffendable, which is not actually a word, but I think it still gets my point across. But even if through some strange shift in the universe, caused by the meddlesome nagging of another dimension, you did somehow offend me, of course I would forgive you and 70 times 7. A reference to scripture? Nope - I just think that thinking about that many 7s could be lucky, and I really like getting lucky. Lol ;-)    

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  40. I believe that cussing is contangeous.  I work in construction and if I haven't heard "F___ it, or MF or SOB before 8am than the something is abnormal.
    Gosh darn it just doesn't have the same tone. 
    I try to refrain but something happens during driving...very creative insulting takes place.

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  41. It just seems to fit certain situations, doesn't it? My husband is a Boilermaker, so that's the same as construction. He hears it all before 8 a.m. too!

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  42. Oh I'm guilty. Well, I don't feel guilty, but I do swear a lot. I try super hard not to do it in front of my kids, but I've never been really good about leaving the emphasis words out. :-)

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  43. My eleven year old daughter is hard on me about it. I often wonder if that will come back to bite her in the ass... I mean butt.

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