In the year 80 AD, a Roman aristocrat was late to the games in the coliseum. His litter, being carried by six of his fleetest slaves, ran into heavy foot traffic near the arena. Worried the maiming and killing would start without him, the Roman stops fanning himself long enough to lean out through the curtains and yell, “by Jupiter’s robes, move it along already!”
In the early part of the 21st century, in a garage off Pearl Street, a wrench slipped off a nut causing a hand to smack into an engine block. Quickly, without thought, five words were loosed into the air instantly calling into question the marital status of the wrench’s parents, while accusing anything or anyone in the general vicinity of a behavior so taboo as to be illegal in all 50 states.
The words may have changed over time, but cursing has been a constant throughout the ages. That was the conclusion I came to as the throbbing in my hand subsided. I also came to the conclusion that I should hire a mechanic and watch my mouth, not necessarily in that order. Readily, I will admit to having a serious problem with cursing, a defect in character that I am not proud of. In fact, it’s rather embarrassing. Trying to be a good example, someone worthy of emulation for my son, has really brought this issue into focus. Change is necessary, yet unbelievably difficult.
Lately, I’ve tried making a game out of it. Compared to most industrialized, first-world countries, America’s scores in math and geography are appalling. So instead of just blurting out something profane, I create a teachable moment instead. When I got a little overzealous with the weed eater last week and pulled out the wires to the air conditioner, I calmly put down the weed eater and dodged the sparks while trying to list the subregions of all the Oceania countries. Determining what came after Micronesia and Melanesia took the starch out of my anger quite nicely. After stubbing my toe on the end table in the dark, I pointed a very menacing finger at the offending piece of furniture calling it a, “univariate polynomial equation of the second degree. That’s right, you’re a quadratic equation that I cannot solve!” Not nearly as satisfying as what I would have said prior to having children, but still effective enough to at least get me limping into the next room.
To spice things up, sometimes I try to use countries that speak romance languages and my favorite candy instead of the more traditional vulgarities. Recently my mortgage was sold to another servicer, who promptly lost my first payment. After being put on hold, invited to hang up and try to solve my problems online several times, and giving my account number and personal information to three different people, the new company encouraged me to simply put another payment in the mail. My patience was terminally exhausted and I had to make it clear that this would not do at all. “Ma’am, you know, as well I as I do, that this is a huge pile of Italian Skittles, and if you think I’m am sending you another payment, you can kiss my French Snickers!”
Yes, gentle readers, I should be mature enough to simply stop cursing, period. This is absolutely true. However, it’s not exactly as easy as “the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter” pie now is it? Polynesia straight, it isn’t. So, just get off your Spanish Kit-Kat high horse and be patient with me. Thank you very much.