Potty Mouth III – Last but not least – Get Creative and Commit

*Disclaimer: This is the final installment of the Potty Mouth series, so if curse words continue to offend you, please do not read this blog posting. In fact run, run fast, run far, there is still time to save yourself. If your still under 18, where are your parents? And, do they know what your reading online? If you answer “hell no!” Then, well I don’t know what to say… I’m in shock!

Tamara

As so many random thoughts I write about get started, my husband and I were talking. We were drinking wine and laughing discussing how people create all sorts of faux profanity. Often it’s a kid related reaction, because none of us seem to want to be the person who taught a two year old to drop an F-bomb on grandma, or in public, or anywhere at all. It’s sort of not cute to see a two to twelve year old sounding like big potty mouths. It’s probably not cute when their 45 either, but good luck with that one. Children and religious grandma’s have probably accounted for some very creative faux cursing. Some are uninspired and boring like fudge, or dang it, or shuuuuger! These lack any creativity at all. Some more creative cursing with kids might sound like Bloomin Ell, Fiddle Stix, or Fluffy Ducks, I don’t think “crap” or “fart” are real curse words, so I tend toward “Freaking numb nuts! Bloody ell, crap or, Fiddle Fart!” when children are involved. But, what about when you have no children, or their grown, and you are all on your own and feel the need to let’er rip?

My husband said that his dad looked at him one day, when he, my husband, was laying down some non-curse word, curse word, and said, “you need to commit” it’s sort of like the Yoda Quote, “Do or do not, there is no try”. Michael said it was probably the best advise his dad gave him, because that philosophy is true of life in general. So, if you’re going to be a potty mouth, and you recognize that there will be times when you need the medical benefits of an expletive, then let’s discuss being creative about it. This leads us back to Debra Morgan, from Dexter.

My friend Mindy just had a baby, I think Debs response to learning Dexter was having a baby with Rita was priceless.
Deb: (excitedly) A baby? a motherfucking rolly-poly, chubby cheeked shit machine? Are you kidding me?
Dexter: I’ve never heard it described in quite those words before, but yeah.

Mindy told me if I had said that, she would have burst out laughing. In hind site, I wish I had, but I’m not sure I would have been able to pull it off as well as Deb, because I would have been, snorting through my nose hiccuping, laughing as I said it.

Or, if something is so good you can’t control your overwhelming happiness…
Deb: Sweet Mary mother of fuck that’s good.
Dexter: I think you might have broken a commandment somewhere in there.

It’s funny how it isn’t funny when a little kid swears, but it can be really funny when some people swear, like your mom or grandma, it’s the surprise of the unexpected. If you look like your a little uptight, but then you loosen up and say, “Crap on a fucking cupcake!!” People often laugh. It’s the unexpected, the novelty that makes it work. Also, crap on a cupcake is a personal favorite of mine, because it is a great juxtapositioning of things that don’t belong together, and it reminds me of a girl I knew in college. She was that person who was so superficially nice, but she would trample all over you if she felt the need. She was the “non friend friend” that tries to steals your boyfriend, or tries for your job, or basically makes a game of trying to fuck with you make you feel less than. I used to say, “I’m just a little cupcake… Baked by the devil,” (you need to use the sweet voice for the first part, and the demon voice for the second part to really get the whole effect) This was/is what I say whenever I tried to explain how I felt about her people like her. So crap on a cupcake just makes me laugh it sort of sums up how tied together the good and bad can be. Being creative means coming up with profanity that isn’t common, I personally love, “Asshat,” it’s so descriptive, and what it describes is funny, to me at least. I also love “cluster fuck,” it really makes me laugh, because what the hell! A cluster of fuckers, or maybe a cluster of fuckers fucking, who knows, but it’s funny. If you ever watched the show Tombstone, you might never wonder again how cocksucker can be worked into every situation and probably helped win the west. Using words from other places is a good way to A. Be creative and B. Get away with cursing in public or work situation without a lot of blow back. For instance “shag it all” or “sod off,” both roughly translate into fuck it all and fuck you, but sound cool and British.  I used to say, “Things get shagged up…” The list goes on, Bloody Sodding Hell, people know your mad, but they’re probably not too offended by the content. Bollocks, is a great, holy shit I’m surprised or annoyed, word. And, there is a long list of others UK options to choose from. The chicks at Chick, came up with a list of the 100 best curse words of all time, making a short video about it. I’m not sure I agree 100% on all the best swears, and they are very American, but Holy Buggering Fucksville! it’s a funny video Batgirl/boy! I learned a few new words, such as Bumblefuck, Thundercunt, and Craptastic, I’m not sure when I’ll use them, but now they’re locked and loaded for the perfect moment. The Chicks also recommend changing things up and using words in unexpected ways. And, that’s what I call creative.

I hope as you’ve read this post something will become clear, I don’t call other people curse names, I don’t say “you fucking asshat!” etc. I don’t think that’s really helpful to situations or people. I might think it in my head on occasion, often about something I’ve just done, such as, “I am such an Asshat!”  But, in my marriage, friendships, and general passing folks on the street, I don’t curse at them. It’s no way to either start a real conversation, or ignore and move on. If you engage with calling people names, most people will engage back, so now we’re in a power struggle… For creative genius? I don’t think so. I also don’t really find cursing a means for projecting strength or being respected by others. I don’t respect people more when the tell me I’m an a Fucking Asshat, do you?  It’s just one of those things, I can call myself anything, you can’t.

To be honest, I subscribe to the idea of, ‘make life funny,’ and the same holds true for profanity. I believe that we need lots of tools in our toolboxes, and while I wouldn’t make cursing my only tool, anymore than I would recommend only having a hammer to build a house, it still belongs in the toolbox. Not only can it help to expel tension or communicate a strong feeling, it can also make us laugh and bind us together in other interesting and useful ways. Plus, my guess is, that while “Mama” may have been our first word, “Shit” was  close behind.

Potty Mouth… Intent and Impact

*Disclaimer: Again, if curse words continue to offend you, please do not read this blog posting. In fact you should shut your eyes right now and back slowly off the page.  This goes for you if you’re under 18.  Back away slowly, and then run.  Of course if you’re 18, you could probably teach me some creative curses.  But, scoot on off this page before you turn to salt.

David Sedaris Quote

We’ve all met them, you know, the people you drop fuck into every other word in any and all sentences.  They say things like, “I haven’t seen you in fucking forever, fuck me, how have you fucking been?” or “One fucking time at fucking band camp…” or even “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!” which was a personal favorite of mine in my 20’s, because fuck got to be the verb, noun, and adjective.  In fact, my favorite potty mouth is Deb Morgan from Dexter.  She gets stars for her ability to also use cures words creatively, which I will bring up in the next installment of the Potty Mouth series.

There are several reasons why people over use curse words in regular talk.  They are trying to assert their right to speak however they want to and it becomes a habit.  Maybe it’s how they differentiated as a kid into an adult, see you can’t fucking boss me around so fuck you.  Cursing is a form of expression that little kids aren’t really or readily allowed, so I am an adult, hear me swear like a sailor!  I personally chose the higher art form of differentiation and got a tattoo… except I still curse, so I think maybe it’s worse for me, I have tattoos and curse… sigh.  Maybe they’re surrounded by friends who support the shit talk, and so they bond with all their friends, and it becomes a habit.  Or, it makes them laugh because it ‘offends’ someone, thus gaining them a sense of power or superiority.  But, it really doesn’t matter why specifically, over time, even a good thing can wear people out.  Even those of us who enjoy a curse or two or twelve.  What starts off with real power, or at least shock and awe. in the rarity of its use, looses that pop when that’s all that is said.  Plus, what are we really saying when we continually curse in simple sentences?  That we speak with a lot of blue adjectives?  That we’re flamboyant?  That we’re tough?  That we really feel intense about the subject?  Maybe ‘yes’ to all that.  But, whether we like it or not, we live in a bigger culture, and we have to look at what our goal is, when we talk with people.  It’s a little communication issue called, Intent versus Impact.  If my intent is to be funny (which it normally is, at least to funny to myself), and I say something, and no one laughs, I missed my intent.  The impact was, no one thought I was funny.  Wow, that hurt just writing it.  Deborah Tannen speaks to the intent of the words.  Two people may use the same curse, and mean two very different things.  She states that people need words to convey emotion, and for those that use them, curse words are linked to emotion in a visceral way. [1]  Overuse may just dissipate the emotional impact, it basically bleeds the feeling out of the words, because no one keeps listening after awhile.

As young adults, we often want to push buttons, cursing is an easy button to push.  It’s a great way to maximize offense, or a great method to strengthen our opinions, or find our tribe.  But, it’s the easy button of language.  It doesn’t require much creativity or intellect to pop off with a *#&@^%$@ (insert your favorite curse here).  And, sometimes, just on the occasion, others words might work better to make a point or communicate your position.

It is also true that cursing holds a different value than it did in the Victorian age, or even up to the 1950’s.  Since the 1960’s there has been a steady acceptance of cursing in Western culture, and American culture at the very least.  Our politicians get caught cursing on microphones, most of our music, movies and books, have people saying all sorts of things that might have curled my grandma’s hair.  In fact check out Why Educated People Curse.[2]  The whole use of what once was considered ‘strong language’ is now sort of passé.

But, again, too much of a good thing is still probably too much.  And, we each have to find that balance in how we speak and to whom we say what.   Which leads me along to the next blog, creative cursing and committing.


[2] The Editors, “Why Do Educated People Use Bad Words?,” April 12, 2010, The New York Times Opinion Pages.  http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/12/why-do-educated-people-use-bad-words/?_r=0

Why are we Potty Mouths?

Mel Brooks Bullshit

*Disclaimer: if curse words offend you, please do not read this blog. In fact you should shut your eyes right now and back slowly off the page.  This goes for you if you’re under 18.  Back away slowly, and then run.  Of course if you’re 18, you could probably out curse me 6 ways to Sunday.  That just might be the topic of a later blog.

Profanity: n. The condition or quality of being profane; irreverence.

  1. Vulgar, irreverent, or blasphemous speech
  2. The use of bad, strong, foul language
  3. Swearing or Cursing

The purpose of cursing:

I am not sure exactly how these thoughts pop into my mind, let alone anyone else’s mind, but I was driving along yesterday and started wondering why I curse sometime?  And, why I enjoy it so much.  In fact, why do any of us curse?  I have my own personal theory about this, but I decided to do a little research, because cursing is a technique that we find all over the world.  While some languages apparently don’t have swear words per se, they all certainly have ways of being rude.  I’d say one of the great gifts of the English and Germanic Languages are that they have exported all sorts of curse words, near and far.  Who hasn’t met some nice person from some foreign land, and then pumped them dry for the “bad words” in their language?  I have been known to pump that well a few times myself.  My dictionary of Spanish insults is impressive.

Apparently swearing performs several social and psychological functions.  It’s sort of interesting that there has been research on this issue, and the research found that chimpanzees have similar behavior to human in this regard.[1]  I am going past the scientific research and possibly over a cliff, to say that my dog has been known to throw down a curse or two.  If you surprise him, he jumps up, saying “ruff %#!*!&#$!!!” which loosely translates into “What the Fuck!” in dog language.  I have witnessed this same behavior in other dogs, cats, and pretty much almost every animal video on YouTube.  Plus, if you have ever listened to Crows and Seagulls, I am pretty sure they are saying some shit that would curl your hair.  They’re the potty mouths of the avian world.

I think at this point it’s within believability to imagine that cursing has been around as long as people have had the ability to make any sort of vocalizations; that first finger smashed by that first rock probably elicited the caveman equivalent to “Fuck!.”  So, what’s the purpose of all this cursing?  Clearly there has to be a purpose if we’re all doing it and we have been doing it so damn long.

Well, going back to the whole finger smashing incident hypothesized above; apparently swearing can help with pain… who knew that?  Well, these guys, Richard Stephens, John Atkins and Andrew Kingston knew.[2] In fact they advise that you should swear in response to pain if you hurt yourself.  The funny thing here is this doesn’t just give you license to be a potty mouth forever when you’re in pain, because if you overuse the swearing, you get a diminishing return on the pain relief, and no one will continue to feel sorry for you, because they will bored with your strategy.  But, seriously, these guys caught themselves a Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for their research.  So, swear some when you smash that finger or stub that toe.

To add to this cool science, a group of neurologist and psychologists at the UCLA Center for Alzheimer’s disease research have suggested that cursing may help in differentiating Alzheimer’s disease.[3]  If grandpa curses, it can tell the doctors just what sort of Alzheimer’s you’re dealing with.  That’s sort of cool, because it’s a pretty simple test, except you’re still left with grandpa and his cursing.  Which can get tiring.

Then there is the wonderful psychological aspect of cursing.  It can make us feel so good!  We need to say something harsh in response to surprise or any strong emotional response to events.  We want to feel stronger rather than weaker.  We want to be a badass in that moment.  I think cursing can give us that.   We also use cursing to push people away, or to fit in.  It can easily work on both those levels.  We are quite capable of choosing the when’s and where’s of social cursing.  What may be appropriate with a group of friends, might work out poorly for you in your grandma’s house.  And, it’s important (i.e. intellectually entertaining)  to look at because cursing it is a normal part of human communication.  It happens and we all do it.

Which leads to the next Blog about the Impact of Cursing.  See you soon! Damn it!

___________________________

[1] Angier, Natalie (2005-09-25), “Cursing is a normal function of human language, experts say”, New York Times, retrieved 2012-11-19

[2] Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston (2009). “Swearing as a Response to Pain”. Neuroreport  20 (12): 1056–60.

[3] Ringman JM, Kwon E, Flores DL, Rotko C, Mendez MF, Lu P. (2010). “The use of profanity during letter fluency tasks in frontotemporal dementia and Alzheimer disease.” Cogn Behav Neurol. 2010 Sep;23(3):159-64

 

Mirror Mirror…

“The difference between how you look and how you see yourself is enough to kill most people. And maybe the reason vampires don’t die is because they can never see themselves in photographs or mirrors.”
― Chuck PalahniukHaunted

Why is it so easy to see issues, especially negative or problematic issues, in someone else, but so difficult to see same issues in ourselves? We spend so much time looking out windows at others, instead of looking into mirrors at ourselves. The lack of control or effective ability to create change in others often leaves us lost and frustrated. We tell ourselves stories about how if others really loved us, or saw our value, they would do these ‘small’ things to change, so we could feel better.  All the while missing the opportunities for change, that might be meaningful in our lives, by ignoring the change we can create in our own selves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea, I’m calling it the Projected Self Concept.  The projected self plays nicely with the idea of internal locus of control versus the external locus of control.  Do I have power over my emotions and myself?  Or do you?  The Projected Self idea asks us, if the issues that I find frustrating or annoying are actually ones that trigger some deeper concern I have in my own self?  Is it that I see in others what I dislike in myself?  Often I think that yest this is true.  Sometimes the behavior or qualities I dislike in others aren’t a one to one mirror of my own self, but those behaviors may trigger another feelings about myself that I don’t like, so I project them in an effort to ignore my issues. So I don’t see have to see them: I rationalize my behaviors.  Say for instance, my mom who is aging, moves very slowly.  It’s frustrating, especially on cold days.  I am not frustrated by my projection of my own slowness, because I am quite capable of hoofing it, at least for a few more years.  But, maybe, just maybe, I am triggered by the idea that I am aging, and I am not getting enough done, or I am wasting time in my life, wasting time I could be using to do something I think is meaningful.  I feel her slowness and then feel my own frustration that I am not meeting my own goals for myself, the feelings feel the same.  And, I feel it most when I am standing there waiting for her to get out of the car or walk into the post office.  The projected self then can focus on the other, blame the other, and viola! presto magico!  I am no longer the problem, I don’t have to look closely at myself, it’s not my own aging, or lack of follow through, it’s “her” she’s the issue, she’s so slow!

The fascinating thing is that the more we look at ourselves, the more we find that our lives and our frustrations are ALL about us.  What power lies in that knowledge!  One of the super secrets of life is that we can learn through being aware of our selves and our feelings provide a road map.  The more we can recognize this idea, that we notice when we are projecting ourselves, the more peace we can have because we are no longer trying to change others.  It all gets really clear when we recognize that we really do create reality around us.  We are magical thinkers, confabulating our histories and our stories so that these projections make sense.  We get to be victims of our avoidance.  And, just as magically, we can stop it, we can choose a different reality.  We can instead find ways to know ourselves, understand our fears, recognize the triggers, and give up the idea that we need to be right, or that our feelings are about someone else.  As long as we are confabulating and projecting, we miss the opportunity to actually see ourselves (in that mirror) and do the work of personal or spiritual growth.  Thankfully, we can choose to develop insights into our triggers that can lead to real changes.  The sort of changes that we have some control over, like taking responsibility for the changes that lead to deeper relationships with others, and developing more authenticity in our relationship with ourselves.  So, choose wisely.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
― Albert Einstein

Several books that I have read lately have me thinking.  The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz and The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.