Rated R

by Laura Bedingfield Herakovich on June 19, 2012

Oh, my stars! Great googly moogly! Good garden peas! Poot!

Um, yeah, there are some times when those words just aren’t enough.

Before you all start worrying that I parent my children with the vernacular of Denis Leary, take a deep breath. While I am not one of those parents who has taught her children that words like “stupid,” “dumb,” or “ugly” are bad words–bad as in the equivalent to cursing, mind you–I don’t roam the house peppering the air with 4-letter words either.

Anymore, at least.

My law school roommate and I certainly would have filled a cuss-jar. Daily. She was a true Southern belle, born and raised Columbia, South Carolina. Her husband wore seersucker at their wedding. Like a mint julep under a Magnolia tree, or a pimiento cheese sandwich at The Masters, she was the epitome of a southern lady. Until we were back sequestered in our creepy rental house. There we both cussed like sailors.

Wait, sailors don’t actually curse. They say things like, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl.” Prisoners. Now they curse. One could go to prison to learn the art of cussing. Or to law school. They are kind of one and the same.

My roommate and I would roam our house, dropping F-bombs every few seconds. There is nothing quite as fulfilling as the F-word. Good gravy, that’s a most excellent word. It flies out of your mouth with a gutteral huff, a sticky, clunky ball of emphatic excellence formed out of 4 thorny, pokey letters. Go ahead; say it. Don’t you feel better?

She and I were roommates for over 2 years, and by the time we had to part ways, we were creative geniuses with the F-word. We were cursing experts, able to convey multiple messages by intonation alone. We could make prisoners blush. And she was masterful at drawling it out to 2 syllables, a skill that sloughs the edges off the word, especially when one is wearing a cute sundress.

Still, as hideous as this confession is, there was something about law school that brought out the burly in just about everyone. Those super-shiny folks who weren’t cursing aloud surely were doing so in their heads after being reamed by a professor over contract law in front of 75 others or after tangling with the joys of future interests in one’s study group. No? You’re lying.

A quick little search by my buddy Google on “stress relief by cursing” will provide links to legitimate articles on Scientific American, the BBC, and Forbes.com about how cursing [uh, duh] relieves stress. Apparently, the release of anger via a verbal outlet is a good thing, and this makes sense to me: I’d rather hear someone dropping F-bombs left and right than see that same person grabbing a machine gun and shooting down folks at the mall. See? A little cussing never killed anyone. Snapping under stress and going postal has.

But cursing is a bit of a hot-button topic these days, especially if you live in Middleborough, Massachusetts, a Puritanical little town that has passed an ordinance imposing a fine on potty-mouthed people who blurt out profanity in public. This comes on the heels of the good ole mint julep sipping Columbians (South Carolina, that is; not South America) also fining any ruffian caught cussing in public. Where’s the list of what is considered profanity? And who served as the gatekeeper, the self-proclaimed socio-linguist who decided which words were naughty and nasty enough to be outlawed? Where does it stop? When Kevin Bacon shows up and dances in the factory?

When pressed, I’ll be the first to admit that cursing is brash and tacky. It’s something ladies just don’t do–until you get a gaggle of them together at a girls’ dinner out or a weekend away. Then it’s Katy-bar-the-door, at least with my absolute closest friends from my childhood. Maybe because we all grew up together in the Deep South, where grandmothers said things like “oh, go to the devil,” the edginess of cursing around each other makes it…dare I say it? Funny. On an atomic level.

These ladies are comedic geniuses with their cursing (clearly, they’ve all read the brilliant treatise on cursing over on the hilarious blog I Miss You When I Blink). In fact, my whole family is pretty darn clever when it comes to colorful language. And while I do have a few refined cousins who keep the family name from tarnishing, when I get together with my immediate family, there are no words to explain the funny.

Of course, our sailor-fests are all sans-little-children. Obviously. As much as I talk a big game about being anti-censorship and all, even I recognize that there are times (law school) and places (beach trips with friends, family funerals) for such language and that, at least in Columbia and Middleborough, one cannot roam around speaking one’s mind as vibrantly as one’s internal monologue might dictate.

I mean, really; I wouldn’t want those good folks to think I was going to H-E-double-hockey-sticks or something.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

When I Blink June 19, 2012 at 8:08 am

The next time — THE NEXT TIME, I tell you — someone says to me, “You curse like a sailor!” I am going to say, “Sailors don’t curse. Sailors say things like, ‘Brandy, you’re a fine girl.'”

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Laura H. June 19, 2012 at 8:17 am

greatest compliment ever, dear On The Blink! Only problem is it’s impossible to just SAY that line; you have to sing it, really belt it out. And in my case, that’s when everyone else starts cursing.

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Julie Silber June 19, 2012 at 8:22 am

Oh sweet girl. Love your prose, even the four letter kind.

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Laura H. June 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Thanks, JCS! Wine is a 4-letter word, too, you know.

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Susanne June 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

This is F*€¥?ing awesome. When my priest told me I must have been a sailor in a past life, I knew my UGA education was a success!

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Laura H. June 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Thanks for reading! And if it makes you feel better, the priest who baptized Theo gave this a thumb’s up! You’re in good company!

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SH June 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I may — may, mind you — have been known to string together some delightfully sinful curses in my time. Love this post!

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Laura H. June 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm

it takes skillz, girlfriend (yes, that’s skillz with a Z). :)

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