www.whyville.net Apr 13, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

The Curse

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Author's Note: You are now officially forewarned that this article is about cussing. Despite the fact that I manage to get through this entire article without swearing, it is entirely possible that it may not be appropriate for younger children.

I am afflicted with potty mouth.

I am afflicted with potty mouth.

I am afflicted with potty mouth.

This realization has been creeping up on me for some time and today, as a fowl, four letter epithet spilled forth from my lips I could no longer deny it: I curse like a trucker.

I am afflicted with potty mouth.

It may be a disease that is sweeping the nation, ailing our youth. Yet, despite this prevalence of blasphemy, it remains a socially unacceptable phenomenon. And therein lies the problem (I have potty mouth), which having been identified, in turn requires a solution. How will I stop those four letter words from escaping my mouth at every turn? I suppose some introspection is in order.

Why am I a potty mouth?

Simply: Because it is fun, and as I like to tell people, fun is my favorite f-word. Well, why is it fun? Because four little letters have the power to be so offensive. And this power is amazing! This, that, what, form, door, bell, cows, love, like, shoe, foot, team, seam, bank, seat - the list of innocuous four letter words goes on and on and on. Would you like me to continue? Because I could list ball and kite and tail, but I think you get the point. And yet, unleash the right combination of letters and people are apt to cast their eyes downwards, or look away uncomfortably. Repeat those magical letters in at the grocery store and you're bound to hear the same words I hear, "Watch your mouth, there are children around!"

I will admit that it seems silly to me that four letters can be so offensive. We talk of war and terrorism and racism on the evening news, in the morning headlines, in the same way that we discuss Grandma Sue's award winning pumpkins - and yet those four simple letters remain vulgar and rob us of our innocence. (You'll have to forgive me for being smug in my open-mindedness and atheism or agnosticism, and so I fail to understand the opposite point of view, and thus I should like to mock it, as is the long standing historical tradition. And perhaps having done so, it is time to ask why these words are so offensive.)

So let us begin by examining this morning's realization: I have have potty mouth. A description of shoes: they are grey and woolen, they have lace, a bow and a button , and (get this) they were 80% mark-down. In conclusion, I drop an f-bomb in emphasizing just how cute my new kicks are. Completely unnecessary to be frank - but aren't all bombs, after a fashion?

And by joe, I think we've hit on something. It may seem silly that somehow my stream of consciousness has come to equate boorishness with the H bomb and subsequently Hiroshima. What do you think they said when they saw the bombs plummeting to the earth? What fowl sounds uttered from their lips in their dying moments? An English teacher from years past described the point of impact as an oily smudge. A single, silent smudge where shoes once stood. Do you think that their last words were polite - or does it really matter?

Speaking of English and the point of impact, I used to own an anthology of war poetry, entitled "Impact", and I am now forced to recall a particularly poignant piece:

The hand that signed the paper felled a city;
Five sovereign fingers taxed the breath,
Doubled the globe of dead and halved a country;
These five kings did a king to death.

The mighty hand leads to a sloping shoulder,
The finger joints are cramped with chalk;
A goose's quill has put an end to murder
That put an end to talk.

The hand that signed the treaty bred a fever,
And famine grew, and locusts came;
Great is the hand that holds dominion over
Man by a scribbled name.

The five kings count the dead but do not soften
The crusted wound nor pat the brow;
A hand rules pity as a hand rules heaven;
Hands have no tears to flow.

Upon reflection, I will not claim to be so eloquent as Dylan Thomas - I have not, after all, been cured of the disease which lead me down this train of thought. But I am forced to concede to the paradox of my situation. My words wield power, yet my words are not so powerful as to crush a city, nor starve entire population and though such words exist, I can not help but think that the power of them, the offense that they would unleash, would not bring me the momentary thrill I seek. Perhaps the joy of cursing then, has dissipated and I will reform. Or perhaps, my profanity is so trivial that I will continue to allow the words to usher forth from my lips, until the day that I too am reduced to an oily smudge.


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