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July 01, 2010

@%#)$@$*

@%#($@$*

by Nancy Pickard

 

Cover your delicate eyes.  There is cursing below.

Before I was 17 years old—not sure of the exact age—I thought curse words were terrible.  Gosh oh golly gee, they were bad things.  Nobody nice would say them.  Holy moly, no.   After all, I was raised in a home where neither parent ever cursed or said a dirty word, at least not in my presence.  When my father talked Hooverdam
about Hoover Dam at Thanksgiving dinner, we all turned red and giggled.  So risqué!  It was funny because it was forbidden.  Oh, sure, I knew a few people who cussed—boys, mostly--but I didn’t know them well.  Who would want to know people like that?  They probably drank and had premarital sex, too.

 Then, possibly about the same time as my freshman year in college, I tasted my first cuss word and found it delicious.  Holy shit, that’s good!  Hot damn, I liked it!  Who knew?

For a while I went crazy with them, practically exhaling them with every breath.  It was all fuck this and fuck that, and yes it was the 60’s, but I was not (yet) talking of sex.

Put simply, I loovveed to cuss.  I still do.

Over time, I learned to tone it down.  With a smidgeon of maturity came a bit of discretion, so that by now I avoid using those words where I know they will offend, and I try not to use them with the obnoxious frequency of a teenager saying, “like, you know?”  (Does it amuse you or unnerve you that apparently I think it's safe to use them here?)

But use them, I do.  Can you give me a hell yes? 

My characters use them, too, but only when that’s in character. 

This does not always sit well with readers.  A few times a year I get emails—it used to be letters—from a member of the sisterhood I call Ms. Grimshank.  Ms. Grimshank regrets to inform me that she cannot imagine why a wonderful writer such as myself would stoop to the use of that language.  Surely I am more imaginative than that; there are such finer words to use!

That always makes me wonder, which words would those"finer" ones be?

Drat? Darn? Dagnabit?  Heck, shoot, goldarnit?

  'Struth, s'blood, ods bodikins?  Shakespeare-150x150

Years ago, a writer got a scolding letter like that from a reader, and that writer—in a fit of irritated whimsy—sent the woman (it’s always a woman) a copy of my latest book along with a gritted-teeth note that suggested the reader might like my words better.  When the writer told me about this, I knew she hadn’t actually ever read me.  I didn’t want to break it to her that there was a fuck or two lurking in my pages. Poor reader! She couldn’t escape, not even in a supposedly-safe-and-cozy mystery.  In fact, I used to drop in a few “bad” words in my early Jenny Cain mysteries, just to shake up things a bit. 

It’s always fun to hear what words people love to say and which ones they can never bring themselves to utter.  I have a favorite cuss phrase that I’ll confide in the comments below, but there are also a few words that I am still reluctant to say or to let a character say.  When it comes to language, I suspect we all operate on a sliding scale of respectability and daring.  What makes me grin might make you frown.  What makes me gasp might not bother you at all.  I’d like to reach the point of maturity at which I actually act upon my belief that words are only as powerful as we allow them to be.

Years ago, I said to my-then ten-year-old son, “Honey, do you realize that you’re cussing a lot?”  He said, “I know, Mom.  I’m trying to cut back.”  It cracked me up!  He knew he didn’t have to worry about his own mother washing his mouth out with soap, but he did have to worry about the reactions of some other moms, and he also didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.

I liked his youthful attitude toward words:  he was striving to use them consciously, be aware of their impact, and accept responsibility for their effect upon other people. 

Damn straight!

Are you an incorrigible cusser, a word teetotaler, or something in between?  Can you stomach "dirty" words, but not "profanity"?  Or maybe vice versa?  How do you feel about finding "adult" (ha!) language in a book?  On tv?  In movies? Express yourselves!

 

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Comments

Do I cuss? Oh fuck yes! I heard a great deal of cussing as I grew up, seeing as how my mom would use the word "shit" several times a day and my dad never called any politician anything less than a son of a bitch. Mom never let dad use the heavy artillery around her, but when he was out working on a car, the rules went out the window.

So, yeah, I cuss alot. Like Harrison Ford and some others who have been on Inside The Actor's Studio, my favorite curse word is "motherfucker". I have, in fact, used the word so much when angry that I've had to switch over to other swear words.

I also like "fuck" because it is such a utilitarian word nowadays. Noun, verb, adverb, whatever, "fuck" fills the bill. I have a friend who went so far as to get a quote by me using that word engraved into a plaque he keeps in his office. The quote? "We are so fucked that, if they ever open a Fucked Person's Hall of Fame, we'll be the first inductees."

And did you know that of The 7 Words You Can't Say On Television: shit, fuck, piss, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker & tits, you can now hear piss and tits on tv? My money is on shit being next, with maybe fuck coming in second. Of the others, I'm pretty sure cunt will be the last to get uttered on broadcast tv.

Oh, and to people who get all upset about cursing, I quote George Carlin. "Fuck You!

I work construction. Need I say more?
I did get a letter from a reader last weekend telling me she really liked my books but she could have done without the bad language. I felt like I'd finally arrived.

Oh, I use "bad" words "all the time."

The one word that I won't use is the "C" word, except when I am singing, say, "Rehumanize Yourself," by the Police, or when I am referring to Clarence Thomas (no kidding--for some reason, he gets the word).

My cursing gets so out of hand that I try to give it up for Lent every year just to be sure I don't drop the F Bomb in front of my Mom. The first several days are a motherfucking nightmare.

I do not use the C word. Ever. Won't even type it. Not sure why that one is off limits to me, but I think it has to do with the misogyny I hear from many people who use it.

The people who really crack me up are the ones who blanche at so much as an 'asshat' then go on to describe, in detail, their personal hygiene and gastro-intestinal problems. Yo, bitch, I'd rather hear the word fuck a hundred times than any word you use to describe your excrement. Just saying.

In other news, I have now added Louisiana to the list of states I will never visit again between May and October. Food and music were fantastic, but it is just too fucking hot down there.

I'm not much of a curser, but I don't have a problem with a well placed swear word, whether by a friend or a character in a book or movie. I do have a problem being beat over the head by a barrage of fucks -- some of Eddie Murphy's routines on video come to mind. I couldn't take the Wire because of the cursing; although I'm aware that it was all in character, it seemed relentless.

One of the TLC backbloggers has written about her father using 'pineapple' to address an errant driver during commuting -- that has always appealed to me.

I only swear in the privacy of my home in front of my family. I seem to have an on/off switch in my brain which keeps me from letting loose in public. But let me get pissed off at home (often)and the words begin to fly so much the air in my home turns blue. My husband hates when I use the f-word, but sometimes it just "feels so good" to say it. I can go days and weeks without swearing, but then it breaks forth and I'm at it again.

I do have 2 words I use in public. 30 some years ago I made up a couple of swear words, just because I felt like it. Tough tutus is the equivalent of tough shit and can be used anywhere the situation warrants.

It's hard to describe mercyflakes. It is not a substitute for any of the accepted pantheon of bad swear words or even the mild "my god". It's even hard to describe a situation or feeling inside myself where I do use it, since it comes when it comes. It does confuse the hell out of people when I use it. The looks of confusion on their faces are priceless. Kids always ask, "What's a mercyflake?"

Like many of you I don't use the C word. Never have and never will.

Hell no, I never curse. But I am laughing so fucking hard at Kathy discovering Louisiana is hot in summer.

Actually, I think the f-bomb is dropped so often it's more like the f-dust up. Shows like the Sopranos overused it so much, it was an aggravation. The language might have been true to the characters, but the word meant nothing and it got very tiresome to aurally wade through: "I am going to [meaningless word] kill you and your [meaningless word] mother and your [meaningless word} sister and your [meaningless word] entire [meaningless word] family."

However, it is much easier to type fuck than [meaningless word] repeatedly.

I have to be really volcanic to use much more than a damn or hell. I think I was forty before I ever said s--t and I still feel more uncomfortable saying it in front of others than saying worse. Nancy, I remember back when we first starting hanging out together and I thought you were such a proper and genteel lady. I nearly fell off my chair when you said in your sweet voice,"Every once in a while, I just have to say 'FUCK!!' so people won't think I'm a prude." As if. (So what is your favorite cuss phrase?)

Doc, you're right about the utilitarian nature of the word fuck these days. Sometimes it's all in the inflection, just as with the word "dude."

KD, lol, you heard from the sisterhood of Miss Grimshank! Welcome to the club. They used to have a lot of rose-scented stationary, but they've moved on to email.

Josh, Clarence Thomas! That's hilarious. I totally see your point.

Kathy, yes! Curse me a river, but spare me your intestinal narrative.

Holly,fookin' A. I fookin' agree about being fookin' beat over the fookin' head with ANY fookin' word.

Peach, "mercyflakes!" I love it.

My fav swear phrase is "fuck, oh, dear!" which I stole from an old boyfriend. I love the funny dramatic irony of it, the juxtaposition of a little old lady phrase with fuck.

Some peeps recently published a study purporting to prove that people who cuss when they're in pain--like when they stub their toe--feel less pain than people who don't. I totally buy this. I think it's the fricatives and the plosives.

Margaret, lol, so true. I do have to undermine my appearance now and then and always have, or else people will sometimes have a false impression of me as prim and proper. It's very very much fun to disabuse them of that. That's probably one of the main reasons I love cussing so much--I've had a lot of fun with it and people's reactions when I do it.

One thing I don't like--the word "shit" used in a restaurant.

Oh, and to people who get all upset about cursing, I quote George Carlin. "Fuck You!

Actually, Carlin once mused, isn't that wishing for something GOOD to happen, and wouldn't "UN-fuck you!" be more scathing?

I cuss like a fucking sailor, by the way, and if y'all don't like it, you can kiss my redneck ass. :-D

The struggle I've had is in trying to teach my son do cuss properly, to use the words, as I put it, as "sauce, not ketchup." If you drop an F-bomb in every sentence, it loses its usefulness in emphasizing your point.

I am trying to give it up, really. People are always astonished when I let fly anyway that I figure it's time.

I tried using the c-word in my current book. Typed it. Deleted it. Typed it. Deleted it. Typed it. Came back in revisions to do it over and over and over. Must have done it a hundred times. Currently, it's deleted. Not sure I can use it. Is it the last line in the sand for women, I wonder?

Oh, pineapple! (Naw, doesn't pack the same punch, does it?)

Pineapple! Does it pack a fruit punch?
Sorry!

Nancy, I can see how you'd have the same problem I do with the "nice girl" appearance. Plus, there's the problem of our name. A Nancy would never cuss. Huh uh, no effin' way.

Are you fuckin' kidding me? I'd never curse - It's crude.

lol, katiebird! I know that's true!

The first and last time I ever had tequila--in college--a boy who walked me around the parking lot said in wonder, "I've never heard a girl use language like that." bwah! Stick with me, baby, and you'll live and learn.

I get laughs for "my cuss word" - POOP!!!
I wish I could throw off a fuck every now and again, but it just feels so uncomfortable comming out of my mouth. I wish I was more daring with my words, but it just doesn't happen.
But I agree - I would rather hear a slew of fucks as opposed to bowel ailments. Just sayin.

I think we are all thankful that you were wise enough to bring up this subject while Margie was on vacation.

Oh, yeah, I cuss. Love it. I agree with all the rest of you on how handy and utilitarian "fuck" is. A current favorite phrase is "clusterfuck." I also like "Jesus Palomino!". Won't use the c-word either. Not a big fan of "prick."

I came by this all honestly--my dad used curse words like any other adjective. And one of his favorite responses when I'd walk in the house (or kitchen) and ask, "Where's Mom?" was "She went to shit and the hogs ate her."

Kellee, POOP is great for certain situations. And it makes people laugh, always a plus.

Red, bwah! Will she be disappointed she wasn't here?

Judy, I think I love your dad. "Jesus Palomino." Did you make that up? I just love cuss phrases that throw unexpected words together. You're making me think I need to have a cowboy character sometime who has his own personal funny oaths.

You know what? Hardly ever. I think it was because I'm on live TV so much, where you just can't allow yourself to say anything the FCC would disapprove of. So it's just easier not to give your brain the change to, um, mess up.

That said, when I do say--whatever comes out--people are SO surprised and they know I'm really upset.

And I don't care what "grown-ups" say--but I am always sad when interns throw around "frigging" and "effing" and even "crap" in an office environment. It's just--inappropriate. Maybe I'm too critical. (ME? Bwaaa ha ah....)

I have really cut back on my cussing. I admit I cussed like a sailor in college. There is just something about getting my first real job that I decided to cut back. Is it because I'm a teacher of young children? Is it because I'm a "professional" now? I still have my all time favorites though.

In the classroom instead of Shit, I say nuts. Crap becomes crabapple. Fuck because Flying Kitty (long story behind that one). Damn becomes dust in the wind. Ass becomes stink head. Son of a bitch becomes Sunny babbit. Jesus become juice box. Those are the ones that I think I use the most. Now at home, I will use the words themselves.

When driving my favorites are Asshat and motherfucker. There is one word. Just one that I refuse to say. This word makes me cringe and is terrbile. That is the C word. The word that refers to a womans private area. I just hate the sound of that word.

My favorite retired TV show that I'm watching right now is Dead Like Me. It was on HBO back in 2003 and 2004. The lead characters mom hates one word. It's not a curse word but she thinks of it as such. Now everytime I see the word I giggle. The word, Moist. *giggle* It cracks me at at what people think is naughty.

I got an email once from a woman who said that I looked like such a nice person in my picture, so how could I use such language in my book?

I was a newspaper reporter and editor. I learned all those words at work.

I try not to cuss so much because of my daughter, but the occasional word slips out. I have no idea if she cusses, but I do know her friends do. Which means she probably does, too, but I'm happy to put my head in the sand.

Hank, that makes sooo much sense about the live tv thing.

Rebekka (hi!). . .I love, love, love your kiddie substitutes. Very cute. And you're watching Dead LIke Me? I loved that show.

Note: It's the first day of free wifi at Starbucks! About effin' time! But look what I'm doing, instead of working on a chapter. ::glares at self, gets to work::

Nancy, Jesus Palomino was a line in USED CARS (1980, I think). Some guys I hung out with in college used the phrase all the time and it stuck.

We have Netflix through the Wii. Dead Like Me is on Instant Watch so I'm slowing making my way through it. MOIST!

Every time I hear "dadgummit" or "goldarnit", I hear Hoss Cartwright in my head. I had an Oklahoma roommate who actually used "shooty-doodle" (that's a conversation-stopper). Irish writers get a lot of mileage out of "feckin'" or "fookin'."

If we write about the real world, we need to use real language. Just save it for when you need it, not in every sentence.

A few points to clarify:

1. Nancy Martin - don't do it. Do not use the word. That is one word that you don't even see in most 'Romantica' fiction. That's how much women hate the word.

2. Ramona - in my defense, there is hot and then there is hot. I understand hot weather - we've had 90+ degree days even in Pittsburgh in June. But the weather in Louisiana is a kind of soul-sapping soupy heat that just makes me ill. I don't know how in the hell anyone gets any work down there. I ended up swimming actual laps because the only way I could be outside was to be in the pool. Otherwise, it's eat, drink, nap, repeat. It's even hot as hell at night! And I don't mean that in a colloquial way, either! More in my next blog.

Nancy, about your cowboy character, my father is a cowboy and my childhood was highlighted with visits from other cowboys. I *never* recall any of them cussing in front of the womenfolk.

Oops - forgot today's blog theme.

Shit - I forgot to say it was so fucking hot there that not of the natives even have suntans. Now that is hot as hell, you sumbitches.

I have readers praying for me because of the cursing in my quilting mysteries (the premarital sex keeps them up at night, too).

I say if you quilt and don't curse, you're not trying hard enough.

oh my, i do dearly love to cuss. Because my mouth is SO nasty, I've made a concerted effort the past few years to watch myself. Now, when the word fuck comes flying out of my mouth, people who haven't known me my entire life look SO surprised it's kinda worth holding back as much as I do - the word seems to make a much stronger impact. But when I hear people preaching about how cussing shows that a person has a limited vocabulary, I admit it - I'm the first to say, Oh, bullshit.
GREAT POST!!!!

NOBODY can put the right inflection on the word 'crap' like Reba McIntyre! LOL!
I learned words when my Dad was driving that I didn't know the meaning of till after I was married!
The 'C' word just sounds so disgusting. The guys in the old crowd only use it to describe one woman, and it does fit her.
I've taken God, Jesus, & Christ out of my cussing. (don't need to piss him off!)
Dusty, I'm trying to visualize a 'red-neck ass'!LOL
In MO. we use 'hoosier' to mean redneck.
Judy- didn't your Dad ever say that 'someone was as useless as tits on a boar'?
I stay up late on Sat. night to watch 'Dead like me"!
Every time I see Jasmine Guy run over the Brit, for stealing from the parking meters, with her cart, I LMAO!

Terri, last spring, I stayed at a hotel during a quilter's convention. They had the ballroom set up with row after row of sewing machines, and they sewed and partied non-stop the whole weekend.

Better than that--same weekend, same hotel, one floor below, was a drag queen convention.

Damn, that was a fun weekend...

Rita, Ha! No, my dad never said that---but while I heard lots of salty vocabulary spew from his mouth, I don't think I ever heard him say "tits"--guess he had his own set of standards (he did grow up in Utah).

I live in Missouri, too (Kirkwood, right outside of StL) and when I moved here almost 20 years ago I was surprised to hear "Hoosier" used as a derogatory term--I just thought it meant you were from Indiana.

Best usage of an obscene word in motion picture history. John Travolta is explaining why he got out of the movie business in “Be Cool”

"Unless you are willing to use the R rating you can only say the 'f' word once. You know what I say, fuck that."

“Be Cool” was rated PG-13 and that was the only time the F-bomb was dropped. Brilliant!

Terri - Lynn's sewing group is called 'Stitch & Bitch'!
My quilt group is 'online' & when they had a retreat together, the older ones were shocked, I say shocked! to see that some quilter's sew with an ashtray next to the machine and say motherfuckinsonofabitchcocksucker when they have to rip out a seam!

Early on in our store life, the late and lovable Ed McBain was in the store signing. He asked me what I was reading and I told him I had just finished an ARC by Sue Grafton that was so different. How?, he says. Well it was all about insurance fraud on the highways in Southern California and Sue is so consistant with one of the main characters who has Tourettes. The Fuck you say, says he!

My mouth.....well when I went to college from the girl's parochial school I heard new words. Then working in the criminal justice system I learned somehow to make DA's and detectives turn red....not the mf-ing actors....still cannot go back. No shit!

wellwellwell, Mr. Typepad just started censoring!
I tried to post that at a retreat of my online quilt group, some of the older ladies about shit when they saw quilter's with ashtrays next to the sewing machines and saying motherfuckinsonofabitchcocksucker when they had to rip out a seam! Some gals even brought wine!
>>>gasp<< (will see if it post this time, asshole typepad!)

Oh, drat, curse words. With an increasingly chatty toddler in the house, Hubs and I are reining ourselves in. It was very difficult at first, but now it's sort of a fun exercise in creativity.

Turns out that my hubby and I were raised with quite different levels of swearing in the house. My dad let fly only upon hammering his thumb, and Mom managed to keep her gracious lady image until my sister and I were in college. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, only stopped cursing after a traffic incident with her then-10yo son, during which he yelled, "Fuckin' ASSHOLE!" out the window of the car.

Swear words are the last frontier of discussion concerning books, movies and music.
We have become numbed by blood and guts in war documentaries and twilight movies and medical shows.
I do not mind a well placed expletive by a alpha male in books. Females swearing still makes me wimpy.
Taking a tally of my sins before going to confession was a test in semantics for me.
The confessional was dark for a reason. The priest could not be seen suppressing his "surprise" when I told him that I had said bad words.
It would have helped if there had been a handbook to referencing the "bad" words.
Being absolved of all sins was a comfort and I knew that I would have to edit myself or go the eternal damnation.

I am on lunch at work laughing my fucking ass off!

Swearing makes me feel better. It's something I do well and often.

The only word I can think of that is completely off limits is the C word. Oh yeah and twat. My mom used it and it surprised me. Even though she said things like shit, damn and son of a bitch (my person favorite) I think it's another word like the C word. CRUDE!

I remember my Dad yelling at me and a few of my friends when we were teenagers (for a real good reason). I got upset and my friends were trying to make me feel better and told me not to worry about it. I didn't really care that he was yelling at all my friends, I was embarassed that he said the F word while doing it. So silly now that I use the word myself several times a day.

I'm currently in trouble with my kids. They've decided that I "Cuss and use BAD words" too much to be around little kids" It isn't good for us, and we'll start doing it to and getting in trouble all over the place." (FYI - my olderdaughter is just shy of 13 and the yuoungest will be 10 in August.)

Interstingly enough, their dad can outcuss a sailor and is currently in his mid-life Harley Biker phase. Evidently he's trying to tone it down because the asked him to, and I'm expected to do the same!

I have favorite words and phrases, and usually under used when Anger is my current emotion. The words I use reflects the degree of my anger.

Thing is, I think I can use the c-word in a book if a really, really horrible character says it, and I want the reader to understand he's even more horrible than she first thought. But I'm held back by the reality that I must type it, and the awful possibility that I might be asked to read aloud and have to say it. So . . . I don't think I can use it.

Nancy M, the gracious lady referenced by my kid.

I went to Berkeley, where it's still the sixties, and that means "fuck" and "fucking" are used as punctuation.

But working as a screenwriter... well, one "fuck" can be the difference between a PG-13 and an R rating, so I learned workarounds. I have some "language" in my books, but not as much as people would probably assume.

Going nostalgic here but Gabby Hayes used to sputter "Dagnabbit" in his movies.
That seem to cover everything.

Do I cuss, hell yes. But like you, I came to cussing later in life and it never sounds right. As Mark Twain said, "You got the words right, but you can't carry the tune."

Watch your fucking language, don't you know a Canadian reads this. And we are all polite and shit like that. All this damn swearing. First time I ever heard such language. Fucking A.

Shit and damn were my parents swear words. My dad was brought up 'full-tilt' Catholic (as he would say) and when he got mad at inanimate objects it was always variations on a theme, Jesus (repeat continuously) or Jesus Christ on a crutch or Jesus H. Murphy . . .

Canada's big tv station CBC has some weird way of censoring language, I have heard shit and fuck on tv shows at 8 p.m. and have heard them bleeped out on shows after 11 p.m. Never made any sense to me.

And to all of you who were impressed by the lovely views and warm(ish) weather here in Vancouver in February during the Olympics - today is July 1st, Canada Day and it is 55F and raining. Lets go watch fireworks or not.

We had a small pool table in the basement when we were teenagers, I missed a shot and said Shit, forgetting my mom was in the room. There was a big moment of silence and then my mom said "that just rolls out of your mouth, doesn't it." And I didn't get in shit for using it but was more careful after that.

Happy Birthday, Louise! I hope you have a lovely day.

How is it that you can make me laugh about the saltiest of language?!
I never cussed as a youngster or in my first dozen years in the working world: my family thought 'damn' was a sizable emotional explosion, and we used proper words for our body parts--not prim or awkward, just the actual names instead of euphemisms.
So, when I finally got around to it, I loved cussing, and still do . . . but the 'c' word? Never! I stopped using 'prick' once I realized that it had anatomical meaning, and I have pretty much stopped saying 'friggin' once I learned what it meant.
There's a difference, funnily enough, in my world between cursing and being vulgar or insulting! But, at home or with good friends, I enjoy effin' well-placed cussin'.

But, since I'm in healthcare, I pretty much watch my mouth around my patients, both in cursing and in politics (if my foul mouth or political views keep someone from feeling they can come to me for needed healthcare, I'd feel very, very badly). However, a year ago, when one of my patients fell back into a deadly, life-threatening addiction, I cursed the air blue, right to the patient's face. They looked SO shocked and upset that I was so upset, I swear they came 30% out of the toxic chemical funk right then. I haven't employed cursing in the office since then, and don't expect to, but it's good to know that a well-placed tirade can have good effect once in a while.
Nancy Martin, I always cringe when I hear even the most evil of characters use the 'c' word, and I always think it isn't necessary. For me, it's not so much the anatomical connection as the implied violence--just too much.

Nancy.....not
I'm afriad once the c word's in print under your name, you will go back to your original hesitation.......but then it's like virginity.......no going back.

I learned to really swear while working in a machine shop for 18 months in my early 20s. Have never been able to lose the knack for it, either. Well, what the fuck, eh?

And I, too, have been asked if my "cozies" have swear words in them. My heroine never swears but those around her do. I'm doing a new series that'll be out next year, and this heroine doesn't mind a few bad words now and then. What a relief!

It really bugs me when the prude patrol shows up and grills me. I want to tell them to chill out, but they'd probably think that was bad, too.

I love swearing. LOVE LOVE LOVE fucking LOVE it!

My mother asked me if there would be as much swearing in my second novel as in my first, since some of her friends thought my language was appalling. I said, "fuck yes, Mom." And then made the last word of book two "FUCK" in her honor.

Mom swears all the time, too, BTW.

Ladies, ladies, ladies.

I'm guessing here but I'm willing to wager most of you would consider any man who uses the C-word to be an obnoxious jerk you really don't want to be anywhere near.

Could it be the guy thinks YOU’RE the obnoxious jerk and doesn't want to be anywhere near you? He drops the C-bomb because it is the easiest way to get you to move along.

Deviousness is not a female monopoly. Having a wife, a mother, 2 daughters and 3 granddaughters I don’t like to use it unless confronted by an aggressively stupid female whose main sources of information are Oprah, People magazine and the Jerry Springer Show.

It is the neutron bomb of words. It leaves all the furniture standing but all of the people are gone.

I'm so late to the party I may never catch up today, but hell, yes. But my kids are little sponges so I've cut back by 85% since they were born. I save the "F" word for writers conferences and, in the presence of the children, cars nearly crashing into ours.

Family lore contends that the first string of sentences I spoke began with, "Sonnybits." I've been cussing with vigor ever since. My mother taught me well.

I'm not sure whether fuck-a-duck or shit-fuck-screw-come is my favorite string.

Y'all have said so many funny things I've run out of time to respond to them individually, dammit. I'll just say at this point that it tickles me how very charming cussing and cussers can be. Ah'm lookin' at you, you rascals.

I don't fucking believe it!! Wimbelton pre-empted Jeopardy!! GRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

To spare the ears of their children, my parents came up with alternative cuss words. A hammered thumb would call for "Blasted sackerac, dirty bricabrac" from the garage while Mom would use "shizzle-dizzle-dit" in place of the traditional language. My cussing is saved for home and private pretty much, but no objections to it in books, tho I do find it amusing that you're comfortable with such language here...even as a guest blooger!

Nancy Martin, if you put it into a book, I would make sure to ask you to read that passage if you happened to have an appearance that I could attend.

Or, you could do like that other author whom I think appeared with you a few years ago at Chester County Books: she had a script and had an audience member read one of the parts while she read the other. So, you could get me back by making me stand at the podium and read the bad word--which I would not. Unless it was referring to Clarence Thomas.

I think cursing can be used artfully and effectively. Too much of it, and it just becomes babble. And out of the mouth of anyone under the age of, say, 16, it bothers me for some reason. But that's just me.

With regards to the "C word" (as y'all so cutely put it) I actually tend to use it like some of my male Brit friends do: as an insult to other men. The only time I've ever regularly used it to describe a woman was when I had such a stupid, petty, power crazed boss that she merited forever being dubbed The Halfwitted Cunt. In fact, after she finally lost her job, I called her that to her face. It was hella cathartic.

I will admit that the word also sometines slips out when a woman does something near fatal on the freeway.

I love cussing too. I have a bad mouth and have had to excuse myself in certain situations. Like around my kids who always got on my case about it, leading me to believe that as they grew up they would eschew cussing because it was "something mommy did." But when my oldest son turned 16, and we were having one of our rip-roaring yelling matches about some homework thing he didn't do (again) he let out a well-placed "fuck!" We both stopped mid-scream, him to see if he was going to get reprimanded (he didn't) and me to weight the placement of his expletive. Finding it appropriate, I went on to reprimand him for not doing his homework. Since then I've noticed a few naughty words creeping into his vocabulary when he's upset ("That's bullshit, Mom!") or when he's truly amazed ("That's fucking awesome!")

I've never written a story without characters that don't cuss. It's too much a part of our world anymore.

My own experience with seeing cussing in a whole new light, came when I watched the show "Deadwood." I will never hear the word "cocksucker" the same way again! In fact, initially the cussing made me wince (me!!) but as I watched the show more I realized the incredible genius of the writer. Not only did Milch create a completely new language through the use of standard American words, but he raised cussing to the level of character. The cuss words in that show were actually a separate character. Quite amazing!

At any rate, cuss on! That's what I say.

I grew up where I heard an occasional damn or hell but nothing stronger. Then I got sent to an all girls boarding school. A CATHOLIC all girls boarding school. I came home cussing like a sailor.

Remembering the morning my grandmother yelled up the stairs that it was time for me to get up and I responded with a hearty 'fuck off'. I was quickly returned to public school.

If you want to hear 10 minutes of movie cussing and insults:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSEYXWmEse8&feature=player_embedded

Judith, you do make me laugh. And I love it when Dorothy Cannell's husband gets upset. Because of the grandchildren, the strongest language he ever uses these days is "Oh shucky-darn."

My sister in law is working for me now. She HATESSSSS the "f" word (her words). I haven't said the word "freaking" so many times in my life. For the past 25 years I've dealt with lawyers, courts, process servers, paralegals and traffic and I fell like I've earned the right to a few fucks in my day to day. I have to admit my little giggle when one flies out of my mouth on the phone with her when I hear an audible gasp on the other end. Go ahead!! Quit over that stupid little word!!! There are situations in my life that a good "fuck" is needed. And the pun can be taken either way.

I had a very hard time the first time I visited Holland with my husband. What you all call the 'c' word is rampant...it's a polite way to refer to the ass. Saying POOP on the other hand (eeeeuw) would be the same as saying shit here and someone telling you they are going to douche only means that they're headed for the shower.

Great post, and great comments! I have a lot of silver in my hair, but certain times require certain words, and I use them quite unsparingly and well! Like others, with age I've learned a bit of discretion, especially in public--but know what? If someone does something major wrong, with an arrogant smile on their face while doing it, even in a very public store parking lot, with others around, I'll disctinctly say You Fuckwad! How dare you!--curse first, gets their attention.

I am so surprised that so many refuse to say what they cutely call the c-word. When you travel in europe, esp the UK, do you talk about your fanny pack? One of my old grandmother's favourite phrases (old Missouri lady), was My Aunt Fanny! or Your Aunt Fanny! as a lively response in conversation, meant 'wow' to her. And I used it often, thought nothing of it, and when I visited my friend in Glasgow, she told me that in her country, 'fanny' was a woman's privates, maybe I should be more careful using that phrase. :-) And a friend of mine who's refereed many rugby (quite violent) games well, for the Army in Britain, says the only time he instantly throws the red card (kicks someone out of game?) is when they call him You Cunt! They can say any and all other words, but not that one, and he's a veteran of several wars and a very tough man...but don't anyone dare use that word! :-) Doesn't bother me. It's just a cuss word.

I think there are certain times that require certain words, and totally agree, use them as sauce, not as a full blown meal, and you'll get more satisfaction from them. :-) But sometimes, many are what is needed! And I have several phrases that are very bad and which I enjoy using once in a while, when called for.

I've loved this blog so much I'm sharing it with a friend, who is a lovely lady, a high and mighty assistant in a posh firm of business, and who hardly ever curses...and yet knows about words, and using them, and irony, and all that. She'll love this!!

Finally, I very much agree--give me fucking hellacious shitfire words, rather than anything about your innards or your 'feelings', in the checkout line of the grocery store or anwhere else!

Bobbie

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