I’ve written in the past about swearing in my short stories, which I avoid, but in real life, I have a bit of a potty mouth. It wasn’t always that way; friends and family members used to be genuinely shocked whenever I cussed. It wasn’t until my early 30’s that I starting using “colorful metaphors,” to borrow a phrase from Mister Spock.
What happened? I started dealing with the general public. Indeed, the last time I can remember having an “I’ve never heard you swear” moment was when I worked at an electronics store in the late 2000’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely linguistically remorseless, I will hold my tongue around youngn’s and (somewhat less successfully) around my parents and family members.
In recent days, however, I have come to the realization that being full of piss and vinegar all the time (as opposed to just at work) is not the best thing for me, and so I am taking small steps to be just a little bit nicer and a lot less of a sourpuss. One such small step is cut down on the cussing. I’m being realistic, mind you, I don’t think I can stop doing so completely, but I could save the f-bombs for special occasions, it’ll be a step forward.
The question then becomes: What should I say instead? Things like ‘shoot’ and ‘fudge’ sound childish to me. I do like almost-swear words like ‘fartknocker’ and ‘frak’ and borrowed a page from Asimov (again) by using words like ‘space’ or even ‘craters’ in place of expletives. Two new ones I have become enamored with have been ‘fuzz’ and ‘bleep.’ I actually used ‘fuzzing’ as a semi-swear word in a yet-to be released story and ‘bleep’ is used as a cuss word by robots in the new “Magnus: Robot Fighter” comics.
I don’t expect my chronic cussing to go away anytime soon, but instead of sounding like a jerk I’ll instead sound like a weirdo that’s read too many comic books and watched too many cartoons, which is what I am, so it works for me!