Monday, February 09, 2009

Cussin' Up A Storm

Being that I love to write, I also love words, including the sound of them, not just the onomatopoeia. Words like "jiggly". "Googly-Moogly". "Uvula". There are others, but these are the simple ones. Curse words are different. They aren't supposed to be used out loud in front of certain folks. I could give a damn, personally. I just love to cuss.

First up, I don't call it "cursing". "Cursing" means that there are spells, potions and old frogs legs thrown into a huge black cauldron, then saying an incantation around it. I say "cussin'" because that's the old fashion Southern way. That's when there's cards, beer and streamed crabs thrown on a kitchen table and everybody's got something to say about everything. That's "cussin'", y'all.

Now, people aren't supposed to say them in the first place. It's wrong and your mama taught you that. Yet, your mama cursed out loud when ever you did something stupid when you were a kid and she does it to this day. But, I'll bet you that she won't slap you in the back of your head if she ever heard you cuss around her. Grownup or not, you do not curse around your mama because you love her and you don't want to get the switch as you get older.

When I was growing up, I was told that if I ever said a swear word around my mama, she would tear my behind up. She'd beat me until she got tired if I ever cussed and so I never did. Until a little thing called Home Box Office entered my life and my life was changed forever and I became the twisted man that I am now.

I wrote about George Carlin during the time of his death and one of the things I mentioned was that George loved words, but it was his "Seven Dirty Words" routine changed me forever as I learned words I had never heard before as a kid. Soon, Richard Pryor came along and I was transformed into a hardcore cuss machine. Mama never heard the words, but everybody else did. In school, at the corner store, around friends, girls, whomever wanted or needed to hear them. Man, cussin' was fun! Out of all the firsts in a teen's life, cussin' was near at the top!

As of now, I have become a Cuss Master of High Class: I'm not up there with the best of them (George, Richard, Redd Foxx), but I can hold my own. I would never really do it here on the blog or in a school paper because curse words can make a person look ignorant. If that was all anyone said to everyone, to paraphrase Eddie Murphy back when he did stand up and could nearly outdo Mr. Pryor, then you'd look stupid. There is an art to the swear and there are some people out there who are just sloppy at using them. I mean really. Say the word like you mean it.

For example, if I were on Inside The Actor's Studio and James Lipton were to ask me from the list of questions (as compiled by Bernard Pivot) what was my favorite curse word, I would have to say M*********. Now, let's look at the spelling of that word. It's not spelled the way most know it, which is M***********. There's more letters there in the original version, but that's not the way I learned to say it. I never heard it said correctly until Richard Pryor: Live at the Sunset Strip in 1979. From that Friday night on, I was on the road and ridin' dirty. I was like a gunslinger with that word because folks never knew when I'd go for my guns. I was the Bret Maverick of M*********s and bodies hit the floor.

What killed me though was whenever I heard folks who'd never really hit the streets say it. No, not just White guys. I mean, like Prince. He was a freak and all with the ladies, but when you heard him look for his dad after his mom winds up the hospital in Purple Rain, I swear (pardon the pun) oyu hit the ground laughing. A serious scene yes, but it's still funny in a cheesy way yelling out, "Where are you, man? Where are you, m***********?" Oh my stars, that was a classic.

In the end, you'll never hear me cuss on paper but if you catch me on an off day from everything, you will get a good swear word or two out of me. Either someone has gotten in my way on the road or somebody told a funny joke, or I just lost a sock, or I just met up with a friend. Notice by the way that I use M********* during each of those events very effectively. Next to the word "the", it really is the best utility word ever created.


HouseT said...

Back when I used to swear, I had it down to an art form. But over time, I stopped worrying about it because I realized that I mostly did it when I was angry and got too lazy to either suck it up or "use my words".

The only problem I have now is that many times I'll want to use profanity in my writing and it's difficult for me to even commit the words to page. You know how crazy you feel having to tell yourself, "It's not you; it's the character."? Yeah.

faustina said...

I learned to cuss like a sailor when.. well, when I WAS a sailor in the US Navy! Good f*g times!

Sam said...

There will be a follow up to this post soon. The Cuss Word and How To Use It.

Anonymous said...

Another keeper!

I make up words that are "close" to the real ones, but not quite as salty. It really takes people aback to hear me yell "SNOTBURGERS!" at something.

Of course, there is that old stand-by from the original Battlestar Galactica: "FRAK". Everyone knew exactly what the word meant, but it got by the censors and was used quite extensively. You know, like the word "smurf".