I have to admit, I am a sucker for a good, creative string of profanity.
You might argue that profanity can’t be good or creative. Certainly I don’t mean good in the moral sense. I’ll leave that to you decide between good and evil. You have to be creative to use profanity in an effective way.
As you may know, I spent yesterday guest blogging for The Fly On Wallstreet. He is profane and insulting to readers and commenters. That’s his schtick. He has written that he is a family man with two young children. Oatmeal is his favorite snack food. Sounds like a pretty ordinary guy – until he sits down to blog.
Then he cranks out an R rated site.
I couldn’t turn it on and off like he does, or let’s say it would be difficult.
I read his blog for two reasons, I like his no holds barred bullishness on the stock market, and I like his use of profanity.
I think using profanity effectively is like telling a joke. There is a set up story and then a punchline which is a profane description of the person or the event. There is a time and place for everything. His time and place is on his blog, I guess.
Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator, also is a fan. Note: In this post he asks readers to invent new cuss phrases – crude language abounds. There isn’t much originality. I would guess that Adams is disappointed.
I’m a big fan of creative cussing. When I was a kid, in Windham NY, one of the older boys invented this friendly threat:
“Don’t make me drag you around on the crushed stones until your bung hole smokes.”
It became an instant classic.
I don’t know too many people that would be offended by the use of “bung hole.” Even if they don’t know what a bung hole is, it seems pretty harmless to me. (A bung hole is the hole in the side of a barrel by which the barrel is filled.)
But sentence has all the elements of a good cussing. First, he couldn’t drag the kid around, certainly there weren’t enough crushed stones to drag him over, and people don’t have bung holes, and it would be impossible for them to smoke!
I use cussing and using profanity interchangeably.
Profanity generally involves a bodily orifice, body fluid, bodily function, a deity, a relative and sometimes common everyday items in various ridiculous combinations.
Some people can’t separate the words used in profanity from what they represent.
Bung Hole – to me it’s a hole in a barrel. Used in the context by Adam’s older friend, it is something entirely different. That’s what makes it work.
The way the profanity is delivered is very significant of course. If said in anger, it will be very inflammatory. But I know families that cuss at each other in language that most would consider vulgar. Delivered with love, it can be fun.
I grew up in a household where “Hell” was the strongest word I ever heard. As a matter of fact, what I usually heard was “hell’s bells” from my Mother. That’s an interesting phrase isn’t it?
I don’t ever recall hearing my dad swear.
Like most bad habits, I acquired my love of profanity in college.
I’m not creative in my use of profanity. If I smash a finger, I will let loose with the most common phrase using the Lord’s name in vain and ask him to condemn the son of a female dog.
I guess there could be worse things than not using creative cussing.