Is That all you’ve got?

Why has the F-word become the primary explicative in a world full of perfectly good descriptive language? There are so many more interesting choices in the english language, why must we fall back to this word time and again?



People who know me know that I rarely use foul language. In fact, I think I’m getting off on a technicality, today, as my use of the F-bomb in this work is, as they say, “for informational purposes only.” The other randy word in the title, I admit, is used only because it makes a funny sentence, and will gain extra hits from people who get their jollies by typing dirty words into a Google search and clicking “I’m Feeling Lucky.”

Now, back to Fuck. Why has it become the primary explicative in a world full of perfectly good descriptive language? There are so many more interesting choices in the english language, why must we fall back to this word time and again? I’m no prude, but, seriously, has the whole population really become this lazy? Some people seem to use the F-word like it’s on sale two-for-one at Walmart, with a free carry-tote.

Take my first boss, for example. My first job as a kid was working at a lumber treatment plant. We would take perfectly good two-by-fours, four-by-fours and the like; shove them into a machine that would poke holes in them, so we could stick them into another machine that covered them with green water-proofing goo. This supposedly made the lumber better. And green. And warped. The owner was a hands-on, salt of the earth guy that thought the F-word was his personal invention. A typical conversation with him was as follows: “I can’t f-ing believe the f-ed up state of the f-ing government. Everything’s so f-ed up that they must have their f-ing heads all the f-ing way up their f-ing asses.” I can only imagine his parent’s dismay when his first spoken word wasn’t “mama.”

I would love to say that I only worked there a few days because I was appalled, but frankly, I was sixteen years old, and worried that I would be found dead under a stack of fallen beams, and my mother would get a call stating that her f-ing kid was dead, could she please come by and pick-up the f-ing remains?

I wasn’t a childhood saint. I went through a phase, like most of us, where I tried out every profanity known to man, and even got comfortable with some of them. My best friend looked at me one day and asked what happened to my vocabulary. That gave me a moments pause, and I decided to clean things up a bit. Later I joined a local church, and the last few words disappeared. My early career was in corporate communications and a lot of retail management: You don’t cuss-out a customer, even if you run into one who is worthy of a few choice words, and you never asked the decent ones to have a f-ing nice day.

The thing is, as far as I can tell, no one is LOOKING for the f-word. We’re not begging people to tell us to f-off (well, maybe some of you are, but I don’t know each of you personally…). I’ve yet to see a movie review that stated the lead characters just didn’t cuss enough. And yet, people seem to offer the mighty “F” in real-life like its filling a void in the universe that must be plugged before life as we know it ceases to exist.

It’s a shame, really. We’ve lost the art of the put-down. Basically, the whole modern English-speaking world would fail a verbal sparring-match with Samuel Clemens, PG Wodehouse, or Will Rogers. All a person seems capable of doing any more as a pure gesture of anger is to drop the “f-bomb.” Where’s the shrewd calculation? Whatever happened to sizing up the enemy? What happened to the good-old days when you trashed a person’s wardrobe, sexual proclivities, or familial lineage? When you stripped the object of your wrath bare of all self-respect by tearing them down verbally to the point where they became sniveling children inside, giving up all hope as a human being? A time when we knew that we had struck a nerve by the tears flowing down their less than perfect features, marring their ugly shirt, and then give them one last verbal smack-down for being weak, as well?

I’d like to say that it’s an education issue, or a social issue, but the simple fall-back to the f-word seems to permeate all classes, colors and even age groups. In fact, if you tried to do any of the old-school verbal sparring that I mentioned above, most likely you’d have a myriad of racial or political groups all over your back, asking for public apologies for your thoughtless behavior.

This last point actually frightens me. Because, now that I think about it, does this mean that the f-word is all that a politically correct society has left?

Shit. We’re fucked.

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