The first time I remember hearing a “naughty” word was when I was three years old. My grandma accidentally sat on a toy of mine and broke it. She yelled Shit, as she leapt up!
Well. That was a new word.
When I was in the third grade, a new kid arrived from Sweden. He didn’t speak a lick of English, so a buddy and I made sure he’d learn. And learn he did. He was just about fluent in two weeks. And you bet your sweet … ass that he was proficient in the art of cursing.
But with maturity and some distance from our eight-year-old selves, it seems that cursing was a lot cooler than it really is.
I don’t want to emulate Tipper Gore. I’m not anti-cursing. I don’t like when curse words like motherfucker get dubbed on TV and the hero says, “You stupid mashed potato!”
While I’m not suggesting you stop cursing entirely. I’m just saying we might want to turn down the volume—just a touch.
When You’re Angry
Every time Lucy did something provocative, Ricky Ricardo wasn’t too far away blowing a gasket in Spanish. Cursing when you’re angry is almost expected. If perception is reality, then if you let this drop, you must be really pissed …
“Sabes qué? F#ck you y yo ### #### #### antes de que yo ############ o te tiro los dientes hasta la fecha en la garanta, la boca se convertirá en suasshole. Y ### #### ### #### hermana Chihuahua también, usted #### ###########!!!”
I can’t remember which episode of I Love Lucy that was from …
But in my opinion, stating your case, raising your voice (when justified), trembling with rage, and turning red (or green if you’ve been exposed to extreme radiation) sends a more intimidating message than taking the easy way out by cursing.
As a man, you should be able to express your anger. Let someone — or something (if I stub my toe on my dresser one more time, I swear I’m gonna turn it into firewood) know why you’re so pissed. Only lazy people resort to unleashing an excess of curse words when they’re mad. It’s cheap space filler. You’re not stupid. Express yourself. Like N.W.A. Not Madonna.
Profuse cursing can actually take away from your argument, says the New England Journal of … what? Really? You thought I had scientific proof? Well guess what? I do!
When You’re in Pain
As if you didn’t need any more reasons to curse when you’re in pain, the geeks at ScienceBlogs.com shared a study on cursing in relation to pain tolerance. They discovered that the more you cursed, the less pain you felt. Just because I watch Fringe doesn’t mean I understand the theory behind their research. But I’ll hazard a guess as to why cursing increases your pain threshold…
If you’re busy screaming, you’re less busy realizing that you just stapled yourself. It’s like when your buddy needs a bandage ripped off. First, you slap him in the face, and when he’s distracted, yank! Off comes the bandage.
Someone rear-ended your 1970 Chevelle. Obvious anger (like running out of Kashi Go Lean) doesn’t need a story behind it. You drop every four letter word you know … And then, a moment of elation! (Really? Who says elation?) That’s someone else’s Chevelle! You parked a few spots down and your ride is totally fine. Phew.
Imagine you’re watching a movie. The protagonist is being bullied. You’re waiting and waiting for him to stand up for himself. And then at the very end of the movie, he knocks out the bully. All that build up makes the one solid punch seem a whole lot more powerful.
The same can be applied to cursing. When you finally decide to give your boss a piece of your mind, you can go about it one of two ways. You can tell him he’s a stupid f#cking moron who gets away with treating people like shit, and you’re tired of working for an asshole. Them’s quittin’ words. If you intend to keep your job, tell your boss his approach needs work and the way he treats his staff is questionable. It’s too easy to say his approach is shitty. He’ll dismiss your message for immature anger.
After you tell your boss off, you’ll need to recharge. Hit up Chipotle and grab a burrito. I know. Their food is good. It doesn’t have to be fucking good. Save your curse words for when they count.
I feel like this should go without saying, but in the event that your mom didn’t raise you properly, I’ll remind you not to curse in public. For some reason, some folks take offense easily. What’s more, it’s not gentlemanly to curse in public.
Picture this: You’ve been waiting in line at the bank, Hlaska briefcase in hand, custom made Astor & Black suit, and you lose it. What the fuck is taking so long? There goes your image, buddy. Now you don’t look dapper anymore. You look crass. The one exception to this is, of course, New York City, where cursing at inanimate objects or long lines is de rigueur.
Even though my Grandma accidentally introduced me to cursing, it doesn’t give me the right to go around dropping F-Bombs in front of little kids. Ultimately, it’s up to parent whether they want to expose their kids to foul language. If you’re at a ball game and there are five kids sitting nearby, try not to curse. And by try, I mean don’t. I know it can be hard when you’re caught up in the moment and Cal Ripken (he still plays, right?) strikes out. Just remember this: Everyone is there to have a fun time. And if parents are ear muffing their kids the entire game, someone’s not having a good time … because of you.
Parents aren’t naive. They’re aware that they’re bringing kids to a public venue where there might be drunk, rowdy douchebags cursing at the players. But that doesn’t give you permission to act like a dick.
I curse. You curse. Everyone curses (not to be confused with the popular children’s book, Everyone Poops). But you need to be aware of your surroundings and respectful of others. Just because you don’t think curse words aren’t offensive doesn’t mean everyone in earshot concurs with your point of view.
It’s not that cursing is bad. It has its place. It’s just that overdoing it detracts from your primary f#cking message. It’s like magic. Saying, “Ta Da!” speaks for a moment that should speak for itself. (Yeah, I borrowed that line from Royal Pains when Hank cured an anxious magician.)
If you use the word fuckin’ in place of um or uh, you need to work on bringing it down just a notch. Your buddies don’t care, but one day you’re going to be on a date with a gorgeous, respectable woman and you’re going to be pissed when you blow it because you cursed like a middle-schooler.
Try for a little more self-awareness. If you curse when you’re profoundly angry, maybe it’s because you just spit out emotions faster than your brain can process what you’re trying to say. So take a breather, focus, and think about what you want to say before you say it.
Curse words should be treated like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae of tremendous rage or … dammit. Elation.