One of the more cathartic moments in my everyday life comes when, in a moment of utter frustration, I string together a plethora of profanities and vent my anger. I love all the bad words; the f-word and the s-word in particular have both figured prominently in my vocabulary – at least until recently. I especially love the tone and feel that swear words possess. I like the shock profanity still manages to muster in those hearing the words even though most swearing has become part of the vernacular.
Unfortunately for me, my swearing days are numbered. Just a second ago, while I was working on this very column, the computer did something that I didn’t like. I responded with a very common question: “What the f—?” To be fair, it was a kind of rhetorical question. I didn’t really expect my computer to find a voice and say, “Oh, sorry about that. That little glitch wasn’t supposed to happen.”
While my computer maintained its silence, Reilly didn’t. He roused from his sleep, stared at me in utter disbelief, and left the room in disgust. While I feel blessed to have such a great dog, I kind of resent the fact that he is forcing me to abandon the profane and become a puritan. If I am splitting wood for the fireplace and decide to chastise an uncooperative piece of wood with a perfectly annunciated f-bomb, is it fair that Reilly lowers his ears and abandons me? Similarly, when I’m cooking our traditional Thornbury-Sunday-morning-flapjack-breakfast and I spill some of the pancake mix, uttering a harmless little “Ah, s—!”, should my little dog have the right to demonstrate his repugnance by slowly slithering down the hallway and out of sight? Of course, in this case, he would probably lick up the spilled pancake mix before his highfalutin’ exit.
I suppose that all pet owners love their animals because they manage, at some level, to make them better people. Reilly is no exception to this ideal. This curious and independent little dog takes me for a couple of walks a day. I credit him with keeping me relatively fit because his exact knowledge of when his walks are supposed to take place during the day keep me putting one foot in front of the other instead of just flopping on my couch. He is affectionate but not annoyingly so. He is playful but knows when to keep the toys away from me. Most of all, he is just so damn loveable. Sometimes I get shocked at how attached our entire family is to this adorable little dog. We are all better people for the affection that Reilly draws out of us.
But he is taking away my right to swear – and I don’t f—ing like it. Can’t I just get frustrated once in a while without that little white canine judging me? The answer is an emphatic “NO!”
I guess the real question is this: Am I a better person if I don’t swear? On an intellectual level I hardly think that refraining from swearing would make me a more or less virtuous person. However, my mind keeps playing tricks on me as I continue to see the disapproving look of my long dead grandmother who, without ever having to say it, held the assertion that swearing is unnecessary and, in most circumstances, inappropriate. Why swear when there’s a million other words that you can use to say pretty much the same thing?
So here I am: a dog owner who is judged for his foul language, haunted by his dead grandmother’s look of reprimand, forced into a puritanical vocabulary. I am being slowly forced to adapt to a life in which no swear words can be uttered aloud.
Now that’s frickin’ frustrating.