I admit it, I have a tendency to use “colorful” language when I’m around my closest friends and people I’m completely comfortable with.  Sometimes, there’s just nothing that quite gets your point across as vehemently and satisfactorily (if not eloquently) as a well-placed f-bomb.  In part, I blame my father for this tendency – I grew up hearing that language around the home all the time.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I can be perfectly polite and well-behaved if need be.  I have an extensive vocabulary, and I’m not afraid to use it.  I realize there are plenty of times and places where an expletive is entirely inappropriate.  I’ve made every effort to provide a good example to my children by not cursing within their hearing (although an occasional &*%#@ has certainly escaped in moments of heightened frustration, pain or anger at one thing or another).

I have fond memories of my 12th grade English teacher, Mrs. Ouida Whiteside, who had a knack of dropping creative not-quite-curse words.  Her favorite was “Bug Dust!”  Apparently, she grew up in a VERY strict family, where even “gosh” was considered inappropriate, so she made up her own expletives.  I’ve found myself doing something somewhat similar when around my children or other people with whom I’m not certain just HOW they’ll react to my considerably less refined use of the spoken language.  I’ve adopted “frelling” from a past favorite sci-fi show (Farscape), and I often use “freaking” when I’d prefer to use something else that also starts with “f”…  “Dang” and “darn” have been known to leave my lips after a brief hesitation for my mouth to shape the less-offensive syllable.

However…  I’ve been attempting to explain to my children that while people do curse, it can create the impression that you are not intelligent enough to express yourself clearly WITHOUT resorting to crude and possibly offensive language (even when you clearly ARE).  Sometimes, you WANT to offend, or to get the attention of the person(s) to whom you are talking, so you might choose to insert a choice and crass word or string of words into your conversation.  I’ve created a sort of cognitive dissonance with friends in the past when, in an attempt to get them to smile or laugh, I’ve told them to “Cheer the f*#@ up!”  It usually works.  Sometimes those words are completely appropriate – when explaining that Hell is a place, for example, and that being damned is how you get there, or that a bastard is someone whose parents weren’t married, or that the word bitch is actually a perfectly acceptable descriptor for a female dog but not a female human.

Where do you draw the line with regards to polite and appropriate usage of these words?  Is “derierre” or “tush” really less offensive than “bottom” or “butt” or “ass?”  Why are you discussing somebody’s (or possibly your own) “rump” with someone else anyway?  Is it solely dependent upon the situation?  Does using a more “polite” or “acceptable” substitute create less of an impact, or does it honestly disguise the fact that somewhere in your mind you’re likely screaming the “real” word you’d rather say?

Sometimes I feel kind of like I ought to follow the example set by The Bloggess – she actually has an alternate blog that she calls The Good Bloggess, where she doesn’t use curse words…  Okay, well, maybe she doesn’t do that anymore, because now I can’t find any online references to it.  Maybe I hallucinated that whole thing.  Shoot…  I mean, oh, never mind, you probably know what I mean by now anyway.

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