• Carmen Milligan

Yes, I said it. And will again. And again.

This summer I was visiting a friend (now ex-friend, but that's another story), who had another guest and her dog. We were sitting on the dock of her boat house at the lake, and the lady's dog really, really wanted to go into the water. When he finally did, you could tell that he panicked a little bit, and struggled with what to do to get back on dry land. He finally dog-paddled over to where we were all waiting to help him get back on the dock. Someone threw another tennis ball into the water a little later, and the dog just looked at it, with no intention whatsoever of going in to retrieve it. I laughed and said, "He's thinking, 'fuck that!'"

Unbeknownst to me, this guest was a member of the church said ex-friend attends. I am who I am, but at the same time, I want to spread a little joy and show respect for my friend and her guest. With that said, I realized my gaffe and apologized. Her response was, "It's okay, I work with 7th grade boys."

I ignored her and continued in a conversation. She evidently wanted to make sure that I got the point, because she said it again. I could have sworn she said it a little louder the second time, but that may have been the thug-Carmen in me screaming to take my earrings out.

Again, I ignored her, and left shortly after. In hindsight (which we ALWAYS get days to weeks later, dammit!), I should looked at her and said, "Yes, I got the reference. Funny."

The truth is that I cuss. A lot. I am a communicator and I like to use all available communication tools at my disposal. Some would argue that swearing is a sign of a lack of vocabulary skills. I think that is ridiculous. And one New England study agrees with me:

“People who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn to use slurs appropriately,” the researchers wrote. “The ability to make nuanced distinction indicates the presence of more rather than less linguistic knowledge.”

Basically, people who swear have a better grasp of language and are more intelligent when it comes to using said language to communicate. Fluency in "taboo" words has also shown that the person using these words has a larger and more complex vocabulary.

Some say that it indicates a lack of restraint. Yes, I'll go for that. But that may be a good thing. It really does get it all out in the open. A team of researchers in 2017 found that people who use profanity are less likely to tell lies or engage in deception. It goes on to say that these people generally have more integrity.

After all, if you stub your toe and yell, "Finklestein!" what really is the difference? Society's norms? You are still swearing. You are yelling a word in pain/anger/frustration/disappointment. It is still a negative connotation. But it's a shiny and polished word-turd instead of a steaming lump of shit like my response would be. They are both excrement.

So, put that in your cup and drink it.

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