By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Earlier this week, a colleague came out of a meeting and walked to the office water cooler to fill his cup.
At some point in the process, the vessel slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor, splashing water everywhere.
He started to spit out a word or words that can not be printed in a family newspaper without using a whole lot of *&$#@! in place of the actual verbiage.
Instead, he caught himself and simply muttered, almost to himself, “bad words, bad words, bad words.”
He showed remarkable self-restraint, which is more than can be said for many of us.
For some, cursing is as natural as breathing. Their speech is peppered with words and phrases you wouldn’t say in the presence of your mother.
These people seem to be prevalent in many of today’s popular films.
I think the writers of some of these films should have a dollar of their pay deducted for every epithet they include in the script. If that were the case, some would end up owing the studios money.
For other folks, obscenities spring forth in moments of extreme stress or discomfort, like dropping a cup full of water, bumping your head on something, stubbing your toe or having your high fade turn into a banana slice that winds up in the water hazard.
Letting fly with a string of expletives can get you in hot water, even if your mom’s not within earshot.
A Pennsylvania man recently was having an argument with his mom in the parking lot of a church where an Easter egg hunt was being held.
At one point Jeff Frey began cursing at his mother, which upset another man, Guy John Murphy II, who hit Frey in the face with an unopened can of Mountain Dew and punched out some of his teeth.
Murphy was arrested, while Frey’s mother said her son “had gotten what he deserved.”
A man on the island nation of Bermuda recently learned the folly of mixing alcohol with painkillers he was prescribed after tooth surgery.
The man became unruly and police were summoned, at which time he cursed at them, twice.
He was given a choice of a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.
A South Carolina man called a sheriff’s dispatcher and cursed while asking for deputies to come to his home.
When deputies arrived and asked the man what the problem was, he asked one of them to “lick this off my hand.”
When the deputy stepped back, the man wiped ketchup on his uniform. The man was arrested.
There are plenty of ways to express oneself, of course, but often there is something cathartic about spouting a bit of salty language.
There are G-rated substitutes, of course, like heck, shucks, gosh and golly.
But there are some more antiquated words and phrases that get the point across without resorting to the same old tired expletives.
Some date from Shakespeare’s time, like “zounds,” a shortening of the words God’s wounds, and “Gadzooks,” short for “God’s hooks,” or the nails that held Christ to the cross.
Others evoke food, like fudge, which substitutes for, well, you know, and sugar, which replaces a word for something much more vulgar.
Some other cultures have colorful and expressive ways to lay a little verbal smackdown on someone.
In China, there is a curse that says “May you come to the attention of the authorities.”
There is an Arab curse that says “May wild asses defile the grave of your grandmother!”
Then there’s a Yiddish curse, “May you be like a lamp — hang by day, burn by night and be snuffed out by morning.”
The old, familiar, curse words have become tiresome and annoying.
For those who think it is somehow cool or macho to curse loudly and often in public, don’t.
It just makes painfully obvious to all within earshot the glaring gaps in your vocabulary.
Try something more colorful, like consarn, dadgummit, land sakes, oh poo, or, my personal favorite, thunderation, which would be appropriate the next time the Oklahoma City Thunder commit a turnover in a crucial late-game situation.
The next time you just have to express your frustration and displeasure, keep it clean, but make it clever, something like “May your son’s hair grow only on his legs and not on his head.”
Hey, wait a minute, that’s not funny.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.