At the end of last year, I noticed an uptick in the frequency of my swearing–specifically, my propensity to drop the eff-bomb. (For the .0000001 percent of you who have never heard this phrase, I’ll use it here: Fuck.)
So I started penalizing myself; five pushups for every time I dropped it; that and every other, reasonably labeled “cuss word.”
A lot of people ask me why. I have a friend who regularly encourages me to swear; he says I need to cut loose more often. I had my reasons, some of which were tried and true, but today I encountered something that filled in the whole picture for me. So here’s why I’m trying really hard not to use the F-bomb as often as I used to.
1. If I’m swearing, I want people to know that I really, really mean it.
Put it this way: No one listens to the boy who cried wolf every single day. So, if I swear at you, I want you to pay attention. It’s like a red flag.
2. I don’t need to be crasser than I already am.
I’m a medium-sized person, but I have a sturdy build and a really big set of lungs. I’m already loud and kind of an aggressive presence, and I’ve been told I’m intimidating, which isn’t really my aim in life. I like people to feel comfortable around me, or at least, as comfortable as my personality allows, and I think regular eff-bombs might be off-putting.
Likewise, there are still a lot of people who find this kind of language offensive. So I’m also making an attempt to offend fewer people, especially, since I’m–well, put it this way. I’ve been called both “aggressively charming” and “charmingly annoying,” and I really don’t need any more of those questionable compliments.
3. Immediate aggression.
This is the thing that happened today. I was out on my bike ride in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park. It’s a five-mile loop with a long, steep climb at the beginning of it (varies between 8 and 14 percent grade all the time, I think, for the first mile and a half) and I was on the right, like I ought to have been, grinding my way up, up, up.
There are a lot of people who don’t understand trail etiquette in this park. (This is another post, or maybe an Op-Ed submission in my local paper, so I won’t address it too much here.) Really, trail etiquette in a front-country park like this needs to be called trail safety, because if I’m coming down hill on a mountain bike and you and your friends are spread out, all over the hill, and not understanding that you need to stay to your right to avoid getting run over, or to avoid the last-minute terrified shuffle that occurs from left to right and all over the middle when I call out “On your left! Left! LEFT! LEFT! LEFT!” then you are a safety hazard.
Anyway. me. Grinding. Two gears up from granny gear. This girl on a hybrid, cranking like the Wicked Witch of the West, comes barreling down the hill on her left; my right; headed right for me. I bark, “Wrong side, wrong side!” and she moves over, but just after she passes me, she yells back, “There’s no fucking ‘sides.'”
Oh, man. You guys. My mood, which had been focused and calm and happy that I was out on a gorgeous clear California evening, was utterly torqued. I started muttering to myself, and then tossed back a totally unnecessary rejoinder: “Loser!” Cooler minds might have said, “Um. Do you drive? Of course there is a side.” But I didn’t have a cooler mind anymore. I had an über-aggressive eff-bomb chucked at me, for no really good reason, I felt, and suddenly, I was hot; the rain had made the trail extra-sandy; there was an annoying mosquito buzzing around my nose because I hadn’t eaten enough today and couldn’t go fast enough to outrun a stupid insect, and argh Argh ARGH ARGH ARGH!
Yeah, Immediate escalation.
I don’t really ever want to make someone feel the way this woman made me feel. And so–fewer eff-bombs, from this potty mouth.* Now you know.
*There are more frivolous reasons for not dropping the eff-bomb. Like, for instance, it’s fun to try and find substitutes, like the day I started swearing in the NATO alphabet: WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot! for instance. Or, say, the book my swearing friend bought me. (This is a fantastic book, by the way. I have learned so much.)