By Tom Westerholm
On my way to work on Sunday (yes, I work on Sundays, sue me…I’m broke and I’m in college), I was cut off by an elderly couple taking an post-church cruise around town. I slammed on my breaks and threw my hands in the air, screaming a phrase that rhymed with “What the truck.”
I never use euphemisms. I curse. A lot. If you follow me on Twitter, you may see it a little. If you know me in person, you will see it some more. And if I consider you my friend, you eventually become impervious to the onslaught of profanity.
Don’t worry, I won’t curse on Cardboard. I recognize that there are venues where cursing is inappropriate. When telling my church about the mission trip I took over spring break for example, I will refrain. As a matter of fact, on the mission trip itself I refrained as well (except when I was driving through Dallas). I rarely curse in front of my parents and never in front of my grandparents. In fact, most of my foul language takes place when I’m alone and I stub my toe or hit my shin, or around my friends.
Some might say that I need a new group of friends. But I would suggest to you that we curse around each other because we are comfortable. A kind of community is created by cursing. If I curse around you, I know that we are comfortable enough to share a moment of levity. Let’s face it: profanity can make a situation funny, and my friend Don knows that I don’t actually think that his head is made of feces.
One tangent: I avoid “Jesus Christ” and “Goddammit,” when used in exasperation. I understand the difference between cursing and taking God’s name in vain. But words like “shoot” (not actually shoot) and “fudge” (not actually fudge) are ambiguous to me.
But the real reason cursing doesn’t bother me is this: I don’t mean it when I swear around my friends. But the moments that I DO mean it are the moments I’m at my most human. We curse when we are angry, or upset, or sad, or unhappy. We curse when we are in pain. Why do we feel the need to sanitize our suffering? Our humanity is dirty, unhappy, and profane. If our language reflects that, I fail to see how it’s the worst thing in the world.
If it offends you, I’m sorry and I encourage you to let me know. I won’t let it continue in your presence. Just know that if you hear it, I’m probably comfortable around you.