My Mom cringed at my last blog post and apologized in a Facebook comment to everyone for my bad language. So here is a fair warning to my Mom (and the rest of you who are easily offended.) The following post contains colorful language not appropriate for some. Since my own kids never read anything I post here, I think I’m safe with them.
This post started when I was recently caught in a contradiction. In my “50 Rules for Daughters” I instruct them to avoid cursing. Then toward the end of the list I advise them that there are rare occasions when they will have to act like a bitch. A commenter asked me to clarify these seemingly inconsistent admonitions. I can’t.
When it comes to cussing I have enjoyed a fair amount of duplicity. It began with my Dad.
My Dad has always been an extraordinary cusser. Until age 7, I thought the name of the craft store near our house was actually called “Hobby Fuckin’ Lobby.”
His legendary expletives hit me full force years later when I had to help him in a legal matter. He was owed a large sum of money on a job. We sued and the attorney for the deadbeat wanted to take my Dad’s deposition. It started a little rough.
Opposing lawyer: Isn’t it true that you called my client a no good so and so?
Lawyer: So are you testifying that you did not call my client an inappropriate name?
Here we go.
Lawyer: My client will testify that you called him a…and I am quoting here…no good son of a bitch. Is that true?
Dad: That’s true.
Lawyer: I thought you just testified that you did not call him any inappropriate names.
Dad (smiling and winking at me): I didn’t.
Lawyer (finally realizing but not smiling or winking at me): Did you call him anything else?
Dad: Let’s see. I called him a no good sonofabitch, a sack of shit, a first class prick…there were more, do you want me to go on?
And it sort of went downhill from there.
That’s one hell of a cusser’s pedigree.
My Dad’s cussing avocation was passed down first to my sister. When her oldest son was about six she was going through a bitter divorce. One day my Mom went over to visit. She found Luke at home alone.
Mom: Luke where is your Mom?
Luke: I don’t know.
Mom: What about your Dad? Where is he?
Luke: (looking up) I don’t know but that asshole is in real trouble.
Knowing this is part of my gene pool I tried to exercise restraint around my kids. It wasn’t always easy. Unfortunately, certain occasions scream for just the perfect cuss word.
They say that animals can sense impending natural disasters before a human has any idea what is about to hit. So could my kids. Whenever I started a home improvement project they immediately stopped whatever they happened to be doing and started to watch me. I am a bit of a fumble-f*#*. And, without fail, my DIY always resulted in a CF. So my kids have had some exposure to colorful language. But not as much as they could have.
One of my friends has a great story about the time he was caught in a bit of hypocrisy. He was careful to avoid bad language around his kids. Or so he thought. Then one day he was at the dinner table with his family and his in-laws when one of his four sons asked: “Daddy, what does ‘fun king’ mean?”
Gulp. “Um…I’m not really sure what you mean.” Nervous laughter. “Do you mean ‘funco’ like those little plastic baseball bats we use.”
“No. Not that. Fun-king.”
“Oh I get it now. You mean ‘Fun King’ like Daddy is the king of having fun?”
“No. I mean like ‘Shut the funking door!'”
But truth be told there is nothing more effective than the use of a rare, well placed cuss word.
At work I have a “Tough Shit” pile. It is mostly reserved for files that have a jerk lawyer on the other side. It takes a lot to land in the “Tough Shit” but rest assured that files in that pile get treated much differently.
Cussing is an art form. Not everyone can pull it off. A cuss word has to have just the right inflection and emphasis. I once worked for a man who prided himself on his own ability to tell someone to go to hell,and “make them believe they were going to enjoy the trip.” What is the use in that?
I have a mentor who has been extremely successful in business. He has some beautiful aphorisms about how to succeed and they all involve a well-placed cuss word. Recently I was telling him with frustration about a project I was working on that was being met with unwarranted resistance.
He said: “Timmy my boy. Always remember there will be no shortage of stupid motherfuckers who will tell you something can’t be done.” I felt better instantly. He branded the resistors with an appropriate moniker and endorsed my plan at the same time. It was perfect and I daresay the cuss word added just the right note.
Of course, to have maximum effect, one still needs to exercise restraint. Noone likes an “over-cusser.” They can be so f***ing annoying.