The Evolution of Swearing

Monday was my first day back to the office after a 2 week break. Walking in the door, I was greeted with the smiling faces of coworkers putting their resolution of “be a more positive person” to work.

During our weekly Monday morning meeting, the colleagues I work closest with every day and I discussed how we had spent our holidays, the family we’d seen and the movies we’d watched. The exchanging of pleasantries all came to a halt when one coworker uttered an 8:08 a.m., “F*ck”.

I get it. When Outlook freezes and you can’t retrieve 2 weeks of unread email, it can be frustrating! Probably “f*ck” worthy.

My coworker covered her mouth and said “Well, shit. Swearing less was one of my New Year’s resolutions!” Bless her heart. She tried.

Thinking about my coworker’s swear-less-lution made me reflect on my own potty-mouthed past, and how my swearing as evolved over the past 28 years. Come to think of it, I remember the first time I used a filthy word on purpose.

It was 1992, sitting in the bathtub with my brother. Before this gets weird, let me add that I was 4ish, he was 1ish, so some people might think of that as “normal”. There was this interesting word floating around that I wanted to test out, and this was the day I was going to do it. I started out with a whisper and slowly increased my volume until I was shouting at my brother at the top of my 4 year old lungs (kind of like that “penis” game…never played it? Google it).

Long story short, the word was “bastard” and my mom was not impressed. Also, Zest soap tastes a little like mountain waterfalls and a lot like despair.

Flash forward to ’96 (I remember, because it happens to be the same year I peed my pants at school), when I called my on again off again “boyfriend” a “bitch” during an intense playground stand off. No boy in my life flirts with some hussie from the 3rd grade and gets away with it. To make matters worse, he shoved me against a fence and ripped my new Starter jacket! Unforgivable.

I remember going home that day and knowing I had to tell my mom what I had done. It would eat away at me until I couldn’t take it anymore. When I finally spilled my guts, she looked me straight in the eye and said “well honey, Sam would actually be a ‘son of a bitch'”. What a woman.

Like with any teenage girl, my high school years were full of experimentation. Swearing was “cool”. My God, the f word could be used as a noun, a verb, an adjective, ANYTHING. You want to be heard? Stick it in the middle of a word! Abso-f*ckin-lutely. The f word could be beautiful when written in cursive over and over on inside cover of a notebook. Needless to say, My mother would have bought the store out of Zest soap if she had heard the things I was saying.

I was too busy during my college years with other questionable activity to think about swearing. To be honest, I should have spent more time inventing awful words and dropping f-bombs during those 4 years than some of the other shenanigans I was up to. However, that’s a story for another time.

These days, I’m all about swearing with a purpose. I’m an ADULT(ish), after all! There is zero tolerance for a 20 something human with a full-time job who can’t control their language. It’s unnecessary. However, sometimes a “HELL NO”, can be an effective way to get a point across. Sometimes Outlook freezes on a Monday morning, and you can’t just sit there and restart, you’ve got to do something!

But I think we can all agree that at this age, there should be no more sticking the f word between words.

I mean, unless it’s the perfect moment…then, ter-f*ckin-riffic. Go for it.