I always used to laugh at the people that would stub their toe and then exclaim, “Fudge!” Come on people, just let the real swear words fly. You’ll feel much better about it. It’s like a weight has been lifted off your chest, and your pain just magically disappears. Behold the power of cursing!
When I was young, I would sit on the floor with my father and listen to George Carlin records where I learned pearls like “the 7 words that you can’t say on TV.” I took pride in my ability to tie together impressive strings of expletives. I am a sailor, after all. I have a reputation to uphold and stereotypes to live up to. I could make firefighters run for cover. Grown men would curl up in the fetal position with a feeling of awe, and young boys would make a bee-line for the nearest church. Young girls would hide behind their mother’s skirts, who would in turn hide behind their mother’s skirts and so on, until there were several generations of women hiding behind each other. Let’s just say that I could make an impact. Then I had kids and things changed.
I don’t think there were any exact moments where I decided that I couldn’t carry on with my old ways, but it probably started around the time my daughter turned 18 months old and started repeating everything I said. What used to be a great tool for motivating and entertaining my sailors instantly turned into a potential dinner party nightmare. All of a sudden, fake swearing started to hold some appeal.
I started out slowly just to see how it would feel. I’d toss out a “darn," "dang,” or “frick” every once in a while. I didn’t get laughed at or burst into flames, so I started to wade in a little deeper. If I spilled my coffee, I’d shout “crap sticks” for all the world to hear. Hitting my thumb with a hammer would bring out a nice “mother of mercy!”
As I got more comfortable, I realized that fake swearing can be fun. If something perplexes me, I ask, “what the deuce?” (stolen from Family Guy). If something surprises me, I’ll unleash my personal favorite (and the one that gets the most chuckles) “Sweet Baby Buddha!!!”
It’s been a long and eventful journey from master of the 4-letter word to purveyor of the tame phrases. It hasn’t always been smooth, and there have been mistakes along the way. My daughter has certainly blurted out a word or two that would make oil-rig roughnecks blush, but for the most part, I’ve been able to control myself. It’s been rewarding, and if I’ve caught an odd look a time or two, it’s worth it. While I still have all of those George Carlin records, I probably won’t sit on the floor and listen to them with my kids (it helps that I don’t actually have a record player anymore). I’m still not perfect, by golly, but at least my kids won’t get me thrown out of any restaurants in the near future.