Step 1 – Fuck It.
Steps 2 & 3 – Fuck it and just let it go.
Whoever said it was easy to stop cussing was full of shit!!
Whether you call it cussing or cursing, profanity, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “an offensive word” or “offensive language,” a subset of a language’s lexicon that is generally considered to be strongly impolite, rude or offensive.
But is it? Has cussing gone mainstream?
For me, the propensity for cussing is innate. Having literally grown up in a family of truck drivers, I was exposed to curse words since birth. But, I’m also the most fowl-mouthed member of my family, so it is also a personality trait. In my novel Foliage: An International Banking Spy Thriller, I touch on how genetic lineage can determine personality traits.
A recent article Personality Can Change Over A Lifetime, And Usually For The Better supports this premise, but also claims that we can change, albeit slowly, “The effects of personality traits on behavior are easiest to see when people are observed repeatedly across a variety of situations. For example, you probably know some people who consistently (but not always) show up on time, and others who consistently run late. And while personality traits are relatively stable over time, they can and often do gradually change across the life span. What’s more, those changes are usually for the better.”
So my genetically ordained personality trait of incurable potty mouth will gradually change for the better? Bullshit. After decades of therapy I have made zero progress cleaning up my language. And there is no quick fix. Hypnosis? Tried it. Transcendental Meditation? Been there, done that. I’m incurable!
After getting my degree in French and moving to Paris, one of my first tasks was to learn the profanity subset of the French lexicon. I needed to arm myself with the appropriate curse words in order to function. Lucky for me, French is rich with profanity. Also, the French have no qualms with cussing and it goes uncensored on TV. The worst language and even female nudity run rampant on national television. Talk show hosts spew merde and enculé. Commercials commonly feature beautiful naked women in the shower blissfully soaping them selves from the waist up. Vive la France. So after watching a lot of TV and a quick tutorial from the brilliant satirical lyricist Didier Bourdon, I was all nuanced up.
All my research has only fortified my dependence on expletives, which could just be research bias. But then why was I recently asked to “Like” this Facebook page? Profanity found me!
At a family gathering over the 4th of July weekend, I met an awesome young lady in her 20’s, who was majoring in aerospace and also raises bees. Her beekeeping was fascinating. But even more fascinating was the way she talked about it. She started the beehive as a school project and her experience sounded both enchanting and harrowing. But even better, she dropped F-bombs like pronouns. I made a point of smiling my approval. The latest generation of adult women uses profanity with no sense of guilt. So the real problem isn’t my cussing. It’s my perceived public stigma against women swearing.
For me, curse words in general and the F-word specifically, are used under two circumstances, for emphasis and under duress. But mostly for the lack of a better word.
For emphasis, sometimes the F-word is the only way to drive a point home. For example, recently, I attended a book launch hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis who dropped the F-bomb with the poise and eloquence of the Duchess of Cambridge. She instantly became my new girl crush. That was an example of the artful F-bomb.
Under duress, the F-word is equally if not more essential. One of my golf buddies observed that when I’m falling apart on a particular hole I yell FUCK! four times and then I’m able to play better again. That’s the formula and substituting a non-expletive won’t work. It’s FUCK x 4 = better golf. That is an example the artless F-bomb.
In my advanced French classes I had to read essays by Montagne and other philosophers and learned that the word essay is derived from the French word essayer, which means to try, or to try out. By writing an essay, we try out ideas. We think them through. It’s a great exercise that I highly recommend to everyone.
Alas, it is unlikely this essay will cure my bad language. But, what the fuck? It’s worth a shot. I’ll let you know if it works.
Please leave a comment* and let me know your experience with profanity.
*Note: Although I usually allow open comments, due to the nature of this blog post all comments will be reviewed before posting. Have fun with it!