Thanks to my English professors, an often stressful work environment and the neighborhood bad kids growing up, I've also developed an immensely colorful vocabulary over the years.
If "effective communicator" means I talk too much, then "colorful vocabulary" means that I have built up an arsenal of offensive language that flies like bullets in a shootout nearly every day.
My mom hates my sailor mouth, and though she's stopped commenting on it, I know it makes her cringe when I let these offensive words fly out of my mouth at the most inappropriate times. I've allowed these words to become a part of my vocabulary that sometimes I don't even realize that I've spoken them.
It was time to reel in the use of the bad words. I don't want to make people uncomfortable or be afraid to bring their kids around me. I'm not very good at that spelling thing that parents can do. "S-h-i-t" when I burn my finger on a hot plate isn't nearly as powerful as just yelling, "Shit!" Plus, I want to speak with purpose, and overusing any words--offensive or not--weakens my ability to do so.
So Day 20's thing I haven't ever done before was clean up my potty mouth and not use offensive words for an entire day. >I also upped the ante, committing to a $5 donation for every curse word slip. Good thing this challenge took place on pay day.
It did not get off to a great start.
9:03am: "Can you believe that story?! Holy Sh*t, that was crazy!"
Once again, "Balloon Boy" is responsible for me failing a mission. Damn you, Falcon Heene! $5 to charity.
12:56pm: "I'm gonna go get some water, maybe d*ck around a bit."
Classy, Steph. Who says that? What does that even mean? Another $5 to charity.
By late afternoon, these were the only two bad words I had spoken. I thought I was doing pretty well. Until my manager stopped by my desk on his way out the door and said to me, "You've been very quiet today. Is everything okay?"
"Everything's fine," I responded, "I'm just afraid my best strategy for not cussing is not talking."
Friends at work tried to throw me off my mission all day, standing by my desk to trade loud conversations peppered with bad words, but I was committed to the cause (and committed not to losing all of my money). But "offensive" proved to have different meanings for different people.6:17pm: "Are you gonna be drinking a little this weekend? Maybe some boxed wine?"
One of my colleagues, a wine connoisseur, gasped at my joke and said, "you should owe $20 to charity for saying 'boxed wine.'" My friend Marc agreed that, indeed, Franzia is the new f-word.
While it's always a goal of mine to think before I speak, monitoring my swear word usage all day was miserable. I didn't feel like my spontaneous self for most of the day. I was grumpy and had a terrible headache. It was as if all the swear words had built up in my brain and couldn't find a way out.
So I decided that moving forward, I absolutely cannot cut curse words completely out of my vocabulary. After all, there are times when bad words are not only appropriate, they're also necessary. Like when Georgia's football team can't make a tackle, for example. Shouting "Make the tackle!" at the players through the television isn't likely going to make much of a difference. But if I yell, "Fucking make the tackle already!" then they'll obviously be able to hear me and will then do as I say.
Likewise, phrases like "ass-backwards" and "shit-show" are worthless without cuss words. "Rear-end backwards?" Lame. And when I have to describe how my cable company does business and weekends out with my friends, I need these phrases.
But an effort, kicked off by this challenge, is underway to ease off the f-bombs and replace them with smarter, more impressive words. Maybe I can still be a lady yet. A pretentious, need-a-dictionary-to-understand lady.
Friday's challenge yielded $30 (yes, I'm donating $20 for "boxed wine") for my friends at The Village Theatre, where offensive language, jokes, and people are always in ample supply. http://www.villagecomedy.com/
Curse on, my friends, curse on.