I am a swear word aficionado.
I wasn’t always like this. When I was eleven, my mother made me chew Ivory Soap for yelling “damn” when my brother ran over my foot with his bicycle. This was referred to “cleaning your mouth out with soap” around my house, as in, “watch that filthy language, or I’ll clean your mouth out with soap.”
** Note to parents, this is an especially potent and memorable punishment if your child has braces**
The whole soap incident may sound a little Billy Bob Thornton, but it was highly effective and reasonably non-traumatic.
My tendency to swear was dormant for many years, curbed by the flashbacks of the solitary incident of soap stuck in my teeth, all through the rest of school, and until I went to college. Then, I got my first job in advertising.
I worked in the Creative department, staffed almost entirely with guys. I was “a girl that could hang.” The guys swore, I swore.
It wasn’t intentional. It just sort of seeped into my vocabulary. And now, it won’t go away.
I once worked for a Creative Director who thought it was just fine if his 8 year-old used the F-word. He was a writer, and claimed that he wanted his son to have use of a full vocabulary, and sometimes “Frick” just won’t do the trick.
I secretly agreed with him. (Although I’m certainly not planning on letting MY eight year old use anything BUT frick until he’s graduated from college.) I have young children, so I do my best to use “dork”, “shoot” and “gol-dern” when another word would be more apropos, but less appropriate.
And yet, I can see the wisdom in giving swear words a rightful place in our language. Like cayenne pepper: you don’t want to use too much, and it’s not really a good fit for pancakes or peaches, but sometimes it’s exactly what you need to spice things up a bit.
Swear words: Are they a necessary and useful part of the full complement of our language, or just the junk food of speech?
16 Replies to “#$@!!! (or, Naughty Me) by Deb Lisa Daily”
Have you ever tried to watch Sex and the City or The Sopranos on TNT instead of HBO? I rest my case.
Good morning, Debs!
OMG – Lisa, I thought my family was the only one to ever use the Ivory soap punishment! Let me tell you, it was just as potent a warning for the sibling of the one being punished as it was for the punishee (I will NEVER forget coming down to the kitchen for a glass of milk to find my poor brother stuck in the banquet, flanked by my parents, crying and taking baby bites of his slice of ivory. At 37, I still can’t swear in front of my dad – I do in front of my mother, but she swears like a trucker, so it’s hard not to).
But I’m with you, sometimes frick just won’t do. Language is a beautiful thing, warts and all. Thank you for the walk down memory lane *shiver*.
Kim, I think you’ve said it all.
People just need to grow up!
Love reading this blog!
Good blog, Lisa! Yes, I’m a grown-up
ol’ woman with a mouth! 😉
Joanne — Hilarious!! Maybe we should start a soap-chewing support group. Every time I smell Ivory soap, I have a little flashback 🙂
Thanks for your great comments!!
Thanks!! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one!!
And thanks again — we love having you here!!
I love the image of you frothing at the mouth Lisa, tiny soap curls caught in your braces. I think swearing has it’s place, but like martinis you have to work up to them. 8 years is too young for martinis (even though sometimes they hit the spot) and too young for the f-bomb.
I never got the soap, Lisa, but I kept my language relatively clean until university. Now I have a little one who mimicks EVERYHING so we have to be very careful in our house! But there are places and times when “dang” doesn’t quite cut it.
From a woman with the word Bitch in the title of her book… I know what mean!
As a connoisseur of the piquancy of many a soap of yore…let me tell you, there’s no good-tasting soap. I can promise you that Sweetheart soap (my mother’s soap of choice) was not sweet by any stretch of the imagination.
I, too, am a serial swear word-employer. And I felt so much better after reading an article in the New York Times that said swearing is a healthy outlet for stress. F’ing A man! My sentiments exactly!
Although I do admit I remember when my children were young they watched 101 Dalmations, and the next day my 2-year old, repeating Cruella DaVille, called one of the other ones “Idiot!” And even that relatively tame word sounded awful from a small child’s mouth.
I grew up in a non-swearing household. Also a non-spanking household, and my only memory in my life of my mother striking me was her slapping my butt when I said “shit”. I was about 15, I think.
But as an adult, I love a good swear word an am not afraid to use them when appropriate. And I certainly use swear words in my books (if I think the characters would use them).
I’m not sure about the little kids swearing thing… I think I”m against it, but can’t come up with one logical non-prudish sounding reason why…
Let go of the Irish-Catholic thing NOW, ok?
Just…….Let. It. Go.
Ahhhhhhh. See?! 😉
I can’t come up with a logical reason either, other than “shit” seems to sound a lot worse coming from someone who still sleeps with a stuffed animal.
Hello, my name is Denise and I have a potty mouth! At least that’s what my mother tells me . . . constantly!
I have youngens at home and the dh gets mad when he hears me on a roll–I’m sorry, you drop a frozen ham on your foot, you’re gonna get … creative! I explaned to him and them, I am an adult. I can say those words like I can have a beer (okay, don’t like beer, I much prefer mojitos, but you get the point). When they are adults they can swear, but in front of me they need to keep it zipped. It seems to make sense to them and until they figure out it’s not an over 21 state mandated thing . . . I’m good 🙂
Comments are closed.