Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Late Night Ramblings on Cursing

image Ever notice how everyone has different words they hate and different words they don’t mind at all?

You’d have to ask my best friend to be sure, but I don’t think I curse that much out loud. Zoe always teases, “Oh my God you said a swear word!” when I type one, and that’s pretty much the reaction I always get in real life, so I don’t think I curse that much out loud. I’ve got a squeaky-high voice that’s higher than most of my ten-year-old students, so curse words tend to sound out of place, anyway.

What’s weird is, my mind, when thinking, tends to adopt the voice of a country boy, kicking back with a beer and shooting the shit at the local run-down, after-work bar. (I’ve never been in one, but I’m a writer. What can I say? I’m practicing dialogue.)

Anyway, most people say hell isn’t a curse word, but my mother was so belligerent about using it that I always hated it. Her voice usually came from her throat, squeezed tight like she was straining hard to hold it together.

But when she said hell, she’d open everything up. Her jaw would relax, her tongue would get big, her mouth and throat would open wide, and hell would come up from the very bottom of her stomach.

Now some people hate shit, but I rather like it.

I like to play at teasing and compliments. You can’t know this about me from online. As a teacher, I have great respect for the art of complimenting: it’s no easy thing to shoot one right on target, one that makes someone feel so good they couldn’t stop smiling if they wanted to. Those are hard to do.

Trust me, they take quite a bit of craft.

Glenn has his buttons. If I tell him he’s handsome, he’ll tell me I’m full of shit. Granted, he’ll say it with a pleased smile, but still, it’s like getting a middle piece of cake when the person before you just got the corner piece loaded with icing.

But if I manage to deliver a compliment with just the right words when he’s least expecting it?

He’ll stop dead in place, a huge grin on his face. And if he can’t get his mouth to stop grinning, all he can manage to say is, “Shit.”


He can’t, however, stand the word f-ck. He thinks it’s the ugliest word ever. Indecent.

I think it’s rather cute. When I say it, it sounds almost like a two year old saying “Lookee! Duck! Duck! It’s a duck, mommy!” (Yes, my voice is that high. *sigh*)

It’s so neat and clean and compact. It’s chipper. It rhymes with luck. And duck and truck. A little squeak and it's gone, cut off cleanly with the k.

The worst for me, though, is when Glenn gets mad at another driver. We’ll be driving along the road, which is one of my favorite things to do.

Glenn isn’t much of a talker. He'd be all friendly-like if you met him, but at home he’ll read or watch TV or work on his computer. If I want to talk deep thoughts, he gets antsy and feels pinned down, so I have to lock him in the car we have to drive somewhere.

I don’t much get to talk to anyone else, because all my interaction tends to be with kids, so I treasure our times in the car together. We’ll be driving along, and I’ll be chattering and he’ll comment and I love the sound of his voice.

He has a low voice that is smooth and rumbly at the same time. When he’s amused or he’s thinking I’m cute at the moment, the smooth rumbles get more airy, like light shining through bubbles.

I love that sound. I don’t have kids, so right now that’s the most beautiful sound in the world to me.

But then some driver will cut him off and spoil everything. I mean, one minute his voice is full of love, and then all the rumbles and airiness flat disappear. His voice gets hard and passionate—so passionately intolerant and angry—and he curses the worst one in the whole world to me:

image “Oh go jump in a lake!”

I know what you’re thinking but you have to hear it.

My husband’s voice sounds mad and ugly when he says it, and I’ll get upset because our intimacy is spoilt. I’ll yell at him not to be mean and not to curse, because it just sounds so awful. I swear I hate it so much that just to hear him say those words will put me in tears.

I hate “Go to hell,” too. What a horrid thing to say. What an awful, horrible thing to say. How could you wish that on someone?

So which curses do you find cute? Which ones sound horribly ugly to you?

21 bonus scribbles:

Edie 3/11/2009 11:52:00 PM  

Spy, I don't feel like cursing after reading this. I enjoyed it so much, espcieally all your descriptions of the different voices. You can tell you're a musician. And I also enjoy the way you talk about Glenn. You make me smile.

I like f-ck but dislike mother f-cker. Or son of a bitch. Why blame the mother?

My CP Michelle says "arsehole," and with her South African accent, it sounds witty instead of a curse word.

Heather Harper 3/12/2009 01:47:00 AM  

I'm not much of a phone talker--unless you are my mom or my husband--but I am dying to call you now.


I sound like a young teen/tween if I'm relaxed and not trying to make myself sound my age. I can do an adult voice, or a sexy voice, or a stern voice--thanks to College Voice & Diction for Theater--but at heart I have a child's voice.


G 3/12/2009 06:44:00 AM  



My cursing has dropped down to about two words:

Phuc (variation from the chat rooms)
Chit (another variaton from the chat roms)

Both are used mainly in situations where I'm incredibly angry at somone or incredibly pissed off at myself.

In my writing, it's a whole different enchilada.

Susan Helene Gottfried 3/12/2009 07:57:00 AM  

You and I need to get together one day and have a loud, animated discussion in the middle of the erotica section, just to see how many people we scare with our kiddie voices. *grin*

(Yeah, it's something Trevor would do.)

StarvingWriteNow 3/12/2009 09:01:00 AM  

I dislike when someone refers to a woman as a "cunt." However as far as sexual talk goes, it sounds more dark and erotic than "pussy".

I've never cared for MF-er either, though I have caught myself using it now and then.

And I don't care for "go to hell" either. That's just not nice.

Bevie 3/12/2009 11:16:00 AM  

Speaking curses is better than writing them. The visual permanency of the curse bothers me. Particularly if it's one of the biggies, like f*ck. (I have a hard time writing that word.)

Not keen on any curse words which have become part of a person's normal conversation. (F*ck and D*mn are the two most common.)

But in a moment of surprise, I love nearly all.

What the f*ck?

I love them because they're so expressive and release so much feeling. I think that's healthy.

Not keen on genitalia cursing, though. Those words bother me. But the real words embarass me.

I guess I'm silly.


Charles Gramlich 3/12/2009 12:24:00 PM  

I curse way too much and wish I had a better handle on it.

Robin 3/12/2009 12:28:00 PM  

I very rarely curse so when I do get mad enough to use one of the lovely words mentioned here a few times, my hubby - or kids, but I try really hard not to use bad words in front of them! - are shocked! And they usually laugh because it's so weird hearing me say such things. However, when I write, I have no trouble using curse words.

Christina 3/12/2009 01:00:00 PM  

I say some pretty bad words when I shouldn't. I try to watch myself, but no doubt, I could have been the wife of a sailor. Good thing no one walks behind me with a bar or soap or most of my expenses would be towards buying more. *le sigh*

Melanie Avila 3/12/2009 02:02:00 PM  

You really think I'm going to tell you my favorites and ruin my reputation here? I don't think so!

But I like some nasty ones. :)

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:05:00 PM  

LOL, Edie, I'm sorry! :-) And gosh, I really miss Glenn. We've been out of touch for three days.

I'm totally with you on the mother thing! I never did understand those expressions! What horrible expressions!

LOL! It's true: curse words in accents tend to sound sexy or witty, don't they?

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:07:00 PM  

Oh Heather, really? I have the same thing! I rarely talk on the phone and will go to great lengths to avoid it. I think it's partly because of my voice. I mean, ALL they hear is your weakness! They can't even see you!

I need to take College Diction & Voice!

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:12:00 PM  

G, yeah, writing does make it a different enchilada. I like that spelling, though, LOL!

Two words? That's great!

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:14:00 PM  

LOL, Susan! Do you know, I have a such a baby face, that one old biddy (she really is an old biddy, I swear--I don't think old people are biddies) kept skulking around me and eventually said something really reprimanding about what I was reading!

But then I was too embarrassed to stand up for myself!

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:17:00 PM  

Writenow, I've tried to see if I can get into more of the whole erotica thing, and I know they use real words, but... I really just can't write them. They spoil the mood for me. I don't like purple prose or substitutions, either.


Writing a sex scene, for me, becomes a game of "how vivid can I make this without naming anything?"

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:21:00 PM  

Bevie, you're right, it is healthy! I never thought of it that way. I'm with you on genitalia, totally. You and Writenow!

I agree about the visual permanency. I'm squirming as we speak!

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:22:00 PM  

Charles, it's tough to change how one thinks and speaks!

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:26:00 PM  

Robin, it's interesting: you're the exact opposite of Bevie! I never curse around kids, either. But it's funny, I do say "kick (*pause*) you-know," and everyone laughs. I've never been able to come up with a substitute for "kick-ass." I mean, when something is kick-ass, it's kick-ass. Any equivalent is too watered down, you know?

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:28:00 PM  

LOL, Christina! Now there's a scary thought! I'd have a stream of bubbles down my shirt!

spyscribbler 3/12/2009 04:28:00 PM  

LOL, Melanie! Your reputation is intact. :-)

Of course, now we're all imagining the nastiest ones we can think of. :-)

Melanie Avila 3/12/2009 08:55:00 PM  

Yes, those are the ones.