“Maybe everyday is Saturday morning.”
One Christmas when I was in junior high, I asked my cool, young Uncle Garrett to give me N.W.A.’s album Straight Outta Compton, at the time making headlines /infuriating Whitey for its track, ‘Fuck tha Police.’
Uncle G came through. But he wanted to listen to it with me, pointing out its Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics label, and pulled me into a side room of his suburban Atlanta home to spin the CD. Mama of course found her way into our private listening party. A few songs in, Uncle G turns to me and says, ‘Every other word is motherfucker.”
“Frank, you can say any cuss word you want,” Mama interjected, “except for motherfucker. It’s just too bad a bad word.”
In 1972, the late, great comic George Carlin altered the course of legalized indecency in America with his “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” monologue.
Out of the 400,00 words in the English language, Carlin picked 7 you can’t say and listed them in order:
I don’t say that first C-word, too nasty and demeaning for my taste. The only other obscenity I refrain from using is G-d, informed by my faith it’s offensive to my Higher Power. However, a friend, a respected, retired doctor here in town (a Baptist, no less) once explained that he doesn’t find it to be blasphemy. He says it’s not offensive to God because you’re actually calling on him to do you a favor.
That tee-totaling aside, I cuss. A lot. I love it, really. And sorry mama, but I mother-fucking love to drop in the F-bomb in all its many splendid forms.
What other word do we have at our disposal that is a noun, verb, adjective, interjection, gerund, compound modifier, and past participle? It’s a fucking fantastic word.
“The first man who hurled a curse instead of a weapon against his adversary,” Sigmund Freud declared, “was the founder of civilization.”
Meaning, per the founder of psychology’s philosophy, that words are substitutes for actions, and sometimes are the best and option we have.
Basically, without powerful curse words, human beings would revert back to throwing sticks and stones and bashing skulls. That’s some savage shit!
However, there’s a counter-point to full embrace of cussing, as has become commonplace in today’s crass culture, and that is of tact and restraint.
During our interview two weeks ago, comedian Jerry Farber (a hilarious mother-fucker) said he mostly avoids using expletives in his routines. Constant cussing is a crutch comics rely on too often these days, taking the easy road of shock over substance.
He never did in front of me until was 18, but daddy wasn’t above a well-timed swear. But it was always spot-on perfect for that precise moment. “Cussin’ up a storm,” as he called it, made a man look foolish — ignorant, even, lacking a vocabulary adequate for expressing themselves. Plus, it was bad manners for most situations, he explained to me once while playing golf and overhearing a group cussin’ up a storm, and good manners never go out of style.
I think about my departed father a lot and remembered his stance on swearing this past week. I found myself in a fury multiple times on multiple days. Technology — iPhones, computers, cookies, buffering, uploading, and syncing — sent this unfrozen caveman into fits of rage, when I’d cuss these devices like a dawg.
“Fuck you you fucking piece of fucking shit!” I’d yell at them.
All worked up after these fights that fell on deaf ears — buffering’s circle of death would not stop spinning not matter how loud and crazy I swore — I would hop in the truck and cuss the traffic lights. They didn’t listen, either.
So the only thing effected by all that anger, expressed in foul language only I could hear, was my vibe. And it wasn’t a good one — bad energy compounded by bad words. Reflecting on another life lesson brought to mind a song that taught me to sing:
“Be careful of the words you wanna say / ‘Cause you’re gonna mean ’em.”
MY WEEK AS SEEN IN SCREENSHOTS
Much ado about nothing from one man typing high above beautiful downtown Columbus, Georgia, at Electric City HQ of the 4th floor of the Heritage Tower, Scattershot is a weekly feature composed ECL Editor Frank Etheridge. It rambles on while reflecting on the week behind.