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After Work: Words Unsuitable For The Prim

Try dropping a two-liter bottle of cola on the many tiny bones of your foot and then dig into your brain for a fit interjection.

Dona Gibbs muses on the uses and abuses of cuss words.

For more of Dona’s delectable expletive-free columns please click on After Work in the menu on his page.

Please avert you eyes if you’re easily offended.

This is about bad language.

No doubt, you’ve heard it said that bad language, i.e. swearing, or where I come from, cuss words, are the result of a limited vocabulary, meaning probably a limited intellect.

That may be, but try dropping a two-liter bottle of cola on the many tiny bones of your foot and then dig into your brain for a fit interjection.

Or how about transporting a used coffee filter to the trash with the inevitable spillage. Do you say, “Oh my! What a silly I am that I have failed to notice that the filter is already leaking coffee grounds into the tile grout. Oh., oh and alack a day”?

I thought not.

We have a very quiet household. There are only the two of us.

Little bad language is hurled between us. We have learned what it means to be married. Truly married. Which is why I no longer mention toe nail clippings in a wicker waste basket that will surely scatter DNA samples from here to there. And why he in turn no longer mentions a thousand little annoyances. Such as why is there no fat-free half and half for coffee? And why isn’t there something in the fridge to nibble on?

Ever-enthusiastic Husband has never used much in the way of bad language.

He was well brought up in the sophisticated northeast and became a lawyer. He has the proper words at the proper times.

I am a Southern Lady. But yes-siree-ri-bob. Butter would melt in my mouth. It would sizzle at times—'nuff to fry up a mess of okra.

People would do well to take cover, but most times people have been there to tell me to put a lid on it.

This ability, or disability, I do believe, is in inherited trait.

I think it’s from my mother’s side who when she was really angry could cause a sailor’s ears to redden. My father would grin and shake his head. I think he was secretly proud of the strange, anatomical combinations her brain could spew out.

For years I worked in the newspaper business. All through university I worked off and on for my hometown daily newspaper. Actually, I worked for them from the time I was fifteen and had a teen column, so I was a homegrown product. After journalism school, the publisher offered me a fulltime job. I was flattered, but I had to tell him I was going to grad school. To (gasp) get a degree in advertising and that (horrors of all horrors) I was going to pursue work in New York.

He rose from his desk. He walked around his desk. He stared at me. He clenched his pipe in his teeth. And no, the smoke did not encircle his head like a wreath. It came from his ears.

He let loose. A vomit of profanity.

Well, I didn’t take the job, but that was my internship in business bad language.

In the ad business back in the bad old days, it was lingua franca. If you didn’t speak it, you weren’t one of the boys. And I so desperately wanted to be with the in-f-ing crowd.

I took the terrible habit home. Lamentably. My son thought I was impossibly hardened. My husband thought bad language was plain bad manners.

It was. And it is.

However, there are times. A few times when nothing comes close to a few auld Anglo-Saxon expletives.

Excuse me, while I wipe up the shards from this mayonnaise jar I dropped, my inspiration for this piece.



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