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Imminent CollapseFlux You!

By Bill Andrews

This past summer, I started swearing a lot, unfortunately. I write unfortunately, but even now my inner child is proud, happy to have such a dirty mouth. What is it about saying those ‘bad’ words that makes us feel so adult, so cool, so hip? It’s like smoking, but without the cancer (or the stains, or smell, or cost … ).

When I was a kid, I remember all my friends swearing like sailors; they’d be saying all kinds of naughty words, words whose definitions I didn’t know but I was sure were titillating. Words like titillating … They’d poke fun at me, because they knew I wouldn’t reciprocate in kind. Eventually they wore me down, though, and soon I was sprinkling some PG-13’s into my speech, always being very careful at home to watch my mouth. My parents raised me better than that, after all.

Again, just as with smoking, I’d try to quit many times. I don’t know why, but it always bothered me a little bit that I said bad words, even though now, looking back, they’re almost quaint in their lack of vulgarity. I’d go weeks, months even, without swearing, but then I’d stub my toe, or a girl I asked to a dance would go off and start making out with some dude, and there I’d be again, cursing it up.

And it was so liberating! Nothing was as satisfying as hanging out with friends, shooting the … breeze, and lettin’ fly with some well-timed obscenity. No longer was ‘crappy’ an acceptable adverb, nor merely calling jerks A-holes. After a while, I just decided to go with the flow and enjoy the ride and probably other aphorisms.

In all my bacchanalian, potty-mouthed revelry, I started branching out. Words I had been saving for my later years became more and more desirable, more and more necessary for me to communicate precisely what I felt. I’ll leave it to the imagination just which words these are, except to specify that I never once dropped the f bomb. These second tier words though, man were they great. The meanings were more vulgar, the shapes my mouth made in forming them more exotic, the situations more fraught. Fraught with peril (them’s fightin’ words!), fraught with danger (no, honest, Mrs. Norvell, I said “hunt”), just plain fraught. The highs were higher, sweeter, and my friends and I reveled even more. At least, I consoled myself, I do have some standards.

The big one itself, the mother of all bad words, the one I can’t print but rhymes with suck (and is more vulgar) … I referred to it earlier as the f-bomb, and I think that’s my favorite appellation for it, since indeed it can shatter a conversation if unexpected, and is just something to watch out for otherwise. For whatever dubious moral reasons, I refused to drop it myself. Even quoting others, I’d make some goofy substitution, such as my personal favorite, “Dude, he just called you a maternal copulator!”

I’d often heard that someone who swears a lot is just displaying their lack of vocabulary, and I usually agree. I’d swear, sure, but at least I’d vary it up, keep it interesting. It’s kinda like cooking with curry: a bit is exciting, exotic, adds a nice spice, but too much and it’ll all taste the same, and people won’t eat at your place again. Well, except for the fact that with swearing, people would. I’ve noticed that the swearing is rampant and widespread. At first, maybe, I figured it was just a college thing, a phase, but my brief and frightening forays into the real world have shown me it ain’t no passing craze. Apparently, everyone everywhere swears. Society was urging me onward, pushing me inexorably toward a future filled with fulsome and flagrant f’s.

Alas, this summer finally broke me of my inhibitions, as only theater can do. When my fiancee came in from out of town to watch the show, she told me how surprised she was by my heavy and casual swearing. I must have been f-bombing the f out of that f-ing place, and she was suitably shocked and awed. Seeing the dismay on her face, I resolved to try to tone down the swearing.

It’s really hard though. Just like smoking (see first paragraph) it’s hella addictive, and quitting is a slow process (see third paragraph). I guess it’s worth it, so my fiancee can recognize me once again, and so people think I have a nice, big vocabulary (or, rather, a verbose lexicon). It’s just not the same though, when your favorite show is pre-empted by the croquet bowl or you find out there’s an exam at 9 a.m. the Monday after Thanksgiving and all you can say is “dang it”. Some things are just best articulated by words we shouldn’t use, and most appropriately described by inappropriate words. Effin’ ironic, huh?