Time to tackle it. #38 on THE LIST. Join me or laugh at me but beware…if you are going to be offended, you can skip this post. Just saying…
Confessions of a Potty Mouth trying to Cut the Cussing
Imagine this scene: Our home teacher (a friend from our congregation that stops by once a month to check on the needs of our family and to share a spiritual message) was giving the kids a wonderful lesson about lures…how bad things can look fun. He asked, “for example, do you guys know anyone who swears or uses bad language?” And there it was. Four kids 8 and under whipped around with their condemning little fingers pointed straight at me and started chattering about the articulate habits of their mother. Even my 3-year-old bounced up and down excitedly proclaiming: “mommy does mommy does mommy does mommy does!” like she’d won a prize. All eyes on me, I could only state “guilty as charged.” Our gracious home teacher quickly moved on.
That was over a year ago, and still I struggle. I have never denied it. You all know the origins of “chee chee shee,” Zaida’s 2-year-old attempt to copy mom’s term for chicken droppings. It is a real weakness of mine. Just yesterday, Sunday school belabored the evils of the dirty habit. Well, at least in class the only fingers pointing at me were in my head. Yes, I am a potty mouth. I know I shouldn’t. I know very well. It is classless and offensive, debased and disgusting. But I don’t agree with all the reasons. On yet another Sunday occasion, a well-meaning and wonderful teacher mentioned that swearing is a lack of creativity, an easy response for someone with nothing better to say. Yet I know people who wield profanity like a loom, artistically weaving together unexpected combinations to create the perfect tapestry of expression. It can be an art.
Yes I swear. I can’t help it, or can I?
I am a second generation swearer. Can I blame heredity? Maybe they will one day isolate the gene and be able to cure it with one big ass shot. Common knowledge: I have a twin sister, fraternal, who is my polar opposite. Me tall. Her short. Me loud, her quiet. She never swears. Me, verbal vomit. Night and day. We even have different blood types. She is a deeply good person, my own personal Jiminy Cricket growing up. While she did her homework and flossed daily, I chose to walk the wild side, dabbling in profanity and, you know caffeinated beverages. Were we just designed that way?
Or I could get Freudian about it. Where my mom was, ummm, colorful, my dad’s favorite expletive was “oh garbage.” In fact, it took driver’s ed with a teenager (me) pulling into the wrong lane of traffic to even get a “hell” out of him, as in “what the hell are you doing?!!!” Fast-forward and you will find me married to a man who doesn’t own an expletive, let alone a favorite one. I can count his swear bombs on one hand, without even the use of my “swear finger.” Ironically, one of those few swears was elicited by a woman driver (me) pulling into the wrong side of traffic on a Las Vegas highway. Oops. So having married my dad, maybe that left me to be the colorful one?
It could be my subconscious resisting authority. Shea says I swear to be cool (Pshaw! Does he not know I AM cool?) I think part of me is rebelling against convention. I mean swearing is such an arbitrary thing. Who decided that the “s word” was the devil’s excrement but “poop” is okay? I just don’t know.
I have tried to claim a medical condition. After a back spaz inspired a cuss in front of people I had just met, I claimed “pain induced Tourette’s.” One guy believed me. Can I get a parking space for that?
What if your choice of words is simply a quest to speak your truth? I was once severely reprimanded for calling a guy an anatomical potty word. I asked him what was worse, saying the word or being the word. Sigh I guess when you say the word, a bit gets on you too.
So there you go, I confess. I know it needs to stop. Sigh. What’s a chronic potty mouth to do?
Ways to Stop the Madness
You can try substitutions. Utah is famous for their idiotic idioms: frick, freakin, flip, friggin, fetchin…and that is just the f’s. My least favorite is when people use the letters. SOB, OMG, or even “What the H?” In my book, if you are going to start a word, finish it. Have a little follow through, for heaven’s sake. As for the other golly darns, it is hard to find an expletive sub with the same satisfying kick…kinda like drinking a decaffeinated Dr Pepper on an all night study date. Just won’t get the job done. Especially for some of the more classic maxims. I mean, really “No sugar, Sherlock” just doesn’t pack the same punch.
Maybe I should try foreign language or antiquated substitutions? No one clicks a tongue if you say “arse” or “Hades.” Is that hypocrisy? I don’t bloody know.
How about the time-honored swear jar? My brother-in-law is serving an LDS mission and I decided his two years of selfless service was an inspired opportunity for me to sponsor a swear jar. A nickel for each %$&*#@! from my mouth. He gets the jar when he comes home. He’s been out 3 months and it is official, I will be buying him a house.
I have even tried corporal punishment. A trick I heard in another church talk sometime somewhere: I put a rubber band on my wrist with the intention of snapping it every time I slipped. Did I mention I have an irrational fear of rubber bands? (and balloons popping and snapping wet towels, while we are at it. ) Yeah, Shea laughed pretty hard as a little “damn” ended up in a snapping swearing snapping more swearing assault on my poor wrist. I think I burned a hole in the ozone that day.
Maybe I could walk around with a beep button? Shut the front door. Maybe I should try duct tape.
Freaking heckuva sugar shock bee turd. I am trying. In a former life I must have been something vile, like a pirate wench or a drill sergeant or perhaps something really abrasive…like a lunch lady.
A nod to all the sweet mouthed son of a biscuits out there who have never spit a sour swear from their blessed lips. Jokes aside, good on you! Keep it up. I admire your control and consideration. Whatever you do, don’t start with the swears; it is tougher than the Sam Hill dickens to stop. But I swear, I am trying….