I have something to admit. So far I’ve hidden this fact here, but… I have a problem with swearing.
On a full tangent, I guess you could say I swear like a filthy sailor, if that sailor had Tourettes and a bad crack habit.
When I first saw Dexter, my brain exploded a little bit. I am not alone, I thought. There are others. Even though it is a TV show, behind the scenes is a writer, or a friend of a writer, or a whack job sister of a friend of a writer, who is just like me.
I learned from a young age the gritty sing-song of bad words, of how fuck can punctuate a sentence and shit can make many a noun more lively: shitbag, dumbshit, shiteater, etc. My dad is from Dee-Troit, in the area around 8 Mile, and he never thought to make his ‘hood language less flowery around his kids.
My mom was helpless to stop this influence. She is by contrast, a Disney character, as soft and guileless as Bambi; she grew up in privileged environment, with her own horse, shuttled around from figure skating practice to dance lessons. Obviously she was not the one calling the shots in our household. I’m sure that subconsciously we came to associate the more rough behavior and wordsmithery of my father with power.
Swearing was literally the only thing my brother and I were ever punished for, as we were happy kids who were otherwise mild-mannered. My mom had us write out 100 sentences every time she caught us swearing, which I once tried to get cute with:
Maybe being so close in age (my brother is a year younger) sparked us to compete for swearing badassness, and for shock value in general. We studied the classics- Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, then later Kevin Smith and Sam Raimi Flicks. It wasn’t long before had quite an arsenal of age-inappropriate jokes and knowledge that we were sharing with our friends.
By 11 and 12 respectively, my brother and I were known as the “bad” good kids in the neighborhood. A buddy one day said, “My mom says I can’t play with you guys anymore.” (Little did this mom know, it was her child’s 15-year-old babysitter who was a far more corrupting influence; this angsty teen had taught all of us the different “c” words, talked incessantly about her older boyfriend, and introduced Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall.)
While I love a well-timed swear word as much as ever, lately I’ve been trying to hold back from cursing when I write. Just for fun, I want to explore other paths of wrong. For example:
Fucking idiot- Barf-chomping, spastic, half-wit poodle
Piece of shit- Professional turd wrangler
Bitch- Droopy-boobed pirate wench’s illegitimate spawn
Holy shit- Jiggling monkey balls!
Anyone else have creative substitutions for a favorite phrase?
Also, if you get a chance, vote for me (or whoever is mo’ betta) at this week’s Dud(ette) Write!