I love swearing.
When I was in 2nd grade, I attended a small Catholic school. Some kids had been swearing at one another on the playground. In response, the nuns came into our classroom and asked us to list all the words we shouldn’t say.
Again, for clarity, when I was in 2nd grade at a catholic school NUNS ASKED ME TO RAISE MY HAND AND SHOUT FILTHY CURSE WORDS AT THEM.
I raised my hand and tried out every combination my little brain could think of. I even tried out a few fun conjugations. I bleep. She bleeps. They bleeped. They have bleeped. They will have bleeped. They will have been bleeping.
Except I didn’t say “bleep” and thus a great fucking love affair with swearing was born.
Not only do I love swearing, I truly think it’s vital to the human civilization. The delicate balance of society depends on our ability to break the rules every once in a while. Some days, the only thing standing between order and chaos is a good “shithead.”
But even though I’m a fan of the f-bomb and all of our linguistic artillery, I’m troubled by more swear words than I used to be. Many of the classics are fundamentally rooted in sexism, phobia, and general assholery.
I have no intention of giving up swearing. But I want to strive to swear BETTER.
I find myself going to asshole a lot. It’s gender neutral. We all have butts. Asshole is the Batman of swear words. Brutal, efficient, and loved by all.
But sometimes even insults with ass don’t work. If I ever did a TED Talk, it would be called “Kiss My Ass and Other Problematic Insults.”
When you say “kiss my ass,” you’re basically saying, “I don’t like you. I find you untrustworthy. Therefore, I want to expose the most vulnerable, sensitive parts of my body and put them close to your teeth. That will show you.”
I also have concerns about douchebag.
Because a lot of the douchebags who say douchebag don’t know what a douchebag is. They’re basically yelling, “You know what you are? I think you’re some kind of hygiene device with water and a hose thing and–I’m going to look it up on Wikipedia!”
I really did look up douchebags on Wikipedia and it was a fascinating read. As always happens when you look at Wikipedia when you should be doing something else, I clicked through to related articles.
I spent some quality time with the long article about bidets.
Let me tell you: Bidets are an overlooked fount of swear word potential.
Wikipedia told me “bidet” is a French word that originally meant “pony.”
My mind filled with the possibilities. I pictured myself back in 2nd grade, on the playground, dodging kickballs and screaming at other kids, “You’re a bidet, Chad! You’re a french toilet pony!”
“Son of a bidet” is also a pretty satisfying thing to shout at say, your iPhone, when it autocorrects “sweat pants” to “swear pants.” (I like the idea of special, magic pants you need to put on before you can swear, but that seems like a lot of fucking work.)
But even with bidet, we can get rid of the gender bias of “Son of.”
We can call people a daughter of a bidet, cousin of a toilet, or, my personal favorite, a child of a butt.
It’s ridiculous, but strangely cathartic. If you can, turn to someone near you and call them a child of a butt. It will improve your mood in no time AND you might make a new friend!
Along the fun lines of child of a butt, I think we can be far more creative and abstract in our cursing.
In 7th grade, I kept having a war of four letter words with one particular kid. One day, I strapped on my swear pants and called him something colorful yet stupid like a “big shit-tool.”
And he responded with this sentence:
“Oh yeah? Well, your mom lives in a Doritos bag.”
To this day, I have no idea what that means, but I still remember it.
“Your mom lives in a Doritos bag.”
It’s sad, absurd, and whimsical all at the same time. It’s like being insulted by a Wes Anderson film.
The Doritos bag memory has encouraged me to be more creative in my cursing.
Swear words should be easy to come by. They don’t need to be based on gender, sexuality, or horrible stereotypes to be potent.
You only need two things for a good expletive:
One: It needs to feel visceral coming out of your mouth. Curse words need a good damn mouthfeel.
Two: It needs to feel a little verboten. It needs to feel like something you maybe shouldn’t yell at a nun in 2nd grade.
I don’t have any nuns in my life right now, but I wanted to test out some words with an authority figure who would give me an honest response. So I made a list of visceral yet meaningless words. I called my mother and said them to her.
I worked my way down the list until one of them finally made her go, “Oh, geez.”
And I knew that was one.
The made-up word that made my kind, intelligent, Anderson-Cooper-loving mother go “Oh, geez!” was this:
One who sucks crumbs? Maybe? I have no idea what it means, but it sounds nasty as shit.
If the person you called a child of a butt is still talking to you, try calling them a CRUMBSUCKER right now.
The next time someone cuts you off in traffic, let that crumbsucker know how you feel about it.
When your phone changes “carpe diem” to “carpet denim” seize the moment with a big bellowing crumbsucker.
If you follow me on twitter, feel free to send me a tweet right now calling me a #crumbsucker. I will feel loved and the rest of twitter will be frightened and confused.
Go forth and crumbsuck!
And if in your travels, someone tries to make fun of you for shifting the swearing paradigm, for putting some thought into what you want future generations to shout at nuns in 2nd grade, then just zip up your swear pants and tell that child of a butt:
“Hey, you French toilet pony, your Dad lives in Wes Anderson’s crumbsucking Dorito’s bag!”
And once again, order will be preserved amidst the fucking chaos of being humans.
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