My father used to curse a lot. He was the most foul-mouthed man I ever knew. Of course he’d beat me anytime he heard me saying anything remotely similar, because he was a hypocrite and hypocrites gonna hyp.
I vividly remember a day when I was three or four years old. I asked him, “Daddy, why are you always saying bad words?” His response, uncharacteristically, was NOT to backhand me across the room or pick me up by my hair in a rage. Instead he simply replied, “Well if you didn’t make me so mad, I wouldn’t have to say things like that.”
As I grew up, I wasn’t remotely inclined to imitate him, so I kept my language fairly clean most of the time. “Bad words” upset my mother, after all, and I didn’t like to distress her.
As an adult, though, especially when I moved out of state and my “interesting” life really began in earnest, I started absorbing the language habits of the people around me. By the age of 25 I was cursing like a sailor in normal conversations with my friends, though still without the disgusting racist epithets my father used to belch every day.
Still later, finding my way into relationships with Christian people, my speaking tendencies chilled out considerably. It was really nice to be surrounded by people who unironically said “heck,” and I started doing it too.
But old habits die hard, and there are still some words I can’t seem to let go of. And those words, apparently, are still bad enough to keep me from earning a place at the Good Little Christian Girls’ Table.
Have your fainting couches and smelling salts ready:
According to the undelineated “rules,” it’s only okay to say “ass” when you’re directly quoting the Bible in reference to a donkey. Not okay if you are referring to buttocks, or to a person. Likewise, it’s only okay to say “hell” if you are speaking of THE hell, the place of eternal torment, but not okay as an interjection such as “what the hell.” “Damn” may be used in the context of being damned to eternal hellfire, but not as an expletive. And so on.
I’ve noticed people noticing my language. I notice when there’s a flinch or a twitch and then suddenly they need to politely excuse themselves and then steer their children away from me. Because God forbid a pre-pubescent human hear the word “butt.”
As usual, nobody in real life ever talks to me about these things. No one ever says, “C, I don’t think you should say ‘crap’ and here’s why.” I’m sure I could hit the Googles and find all sorts of Bible commentaries out there on the subject, but I’m more of a “lived experience” kind of person. I want people to sack up and TELL me what their problem with me is.
Huh. I should probably add “sack” to that list.