Yesterday, a friend who is more or less my age wrote this to me (and a bunch of her other friends):
I know I am swearing more. I enjoy it, but are there other and perhaps darker reasons why I find myself swearing more?
Jeepers. That’s scary. Imagine sliding into an abyss of routine cursing, where four letter words are something you find yourself reaching for in even the most innocent of times. Holy moly, I hope this never happens to me!
I mean, gosh, swearing is so undignified. If you insert the “s” word with any regularity, it does sound like, at some level, you are preoccupied with your bowels. The substitute – c*** can’t be any better.
My friend found herself calling forth in a public setting (among law profs no less) a part of the anatomy that oftentimes receives prominent coverage in skuzzy magazines. The people were rightly shocked. Goodness gracious, wouldn’t you be offended if someone asked about slanginess of the word **nt?
I was forced, nonetheless, to send a reply to her. She is a friend after all, living in a distant state, asking us, Midwesterners, with strong values and good manners, to comment on her increasing ventures into those parts of the dictionary leafed through mostly by adolescent boys.
I am honest. I had to admit it. Though I’m not one who likes the mention of poop in every sentence (blog or otherwise), recently I found myself in an argument with a friend where every other word seemed to deal less with the subject matter of our dispute and more with an act of copulation. It was more spirited that way! You can’t make a point by shouting “you are so gosh darn weird.” Gosh darn doesn’t have the same dramatic impact value as, well, its dirtier cousin.
The NYTimes got it right a couple of days ago (Science section, here) when it highlighted our longstanding committment to linguistic vulgarity. It causes people to stop and listen. Desparate types may need to resort to it more, but even us here on the sidelines, we need to fucking wake you up every once in a while. Life doesn't have a bold key to grab your attention and make your heart race.