17. Go a Day Without Swearing

I have a potty mouth (the first step is admitting you have a problem). This is very certainly my least flattering feature. I have nobody to blame but myself. I really like the way swear words are constructed. The way the hard consonants of a swear word feel on the tongue always seems to mirror the frustration or passion I feel when I say an offensive curse word. It is possible for me to keep myself from swearing when it's totally inappropriate (right now my mother is reading this and arguing that it is NEVER appropriate -- it's important that I point out that this is my ultimate rebellion. I was raised to know that it's not polite to swear, and so I do it... a lot. In most other areas of my life I am a by the book gal). I never swear in church, in front of my grandparents, in front of children, or on the radio (I really value my job). In all other instances it is all systems go. I am known for my creative use of the swear word, and have taken pride in my swearing prowess. That said, I will repeat, it is my least flattering feature.

I don't know that I've ever been bothered so much by swearing that I've wanted to stop altogether, but I am almost 32 years old, and I'm a parent (to a sponge-like toddler), and I'm supposedly a lady, so it's probably wise to put in an effort, right? It may seem ridiculous to you, but the task of going 24 hours without swearing is enormously daunting for me. In theory, I should be able to do it, I have the ability to flip the swearing switch off, I do it all the time, but somehow it's not that easy.

I deliberately chose a day that had many activities where I would potentially find myself swearing. I swear when I am happy, mad, confused, excited, and frustrated. So, it was important for me to select activities that would provoke any or all of those emotions. Most importantly, we invited some friends over to dinner who I usually find myself swearing a lot with. I also moved something heavy, did some cleaning, talked to friends on the phone, got excited, and tried to find something.

I swore 15 times that day. Mostly the F word (my mom calls it "the purple word," and I still am not quite sure why). I am being honest here, I might not be the kind of girl you want to bring home to meet the parents. The worst part, the first 8 times were out loud... to MYSELF. There was nobody else around. Which, of course, begs the question, if a person swears in the forest and there is nobody there to hear it... you know the rest. I counted each time, because part of being self aware is being brutally honest with yourself. The ninth time I swore I was talking to my girlfriend Liv on the phone. I hadn't told her before the conversation that I was trying not to swear, but when that glorious F word slipped out, I caught myself. Naturally, what I wanted to do was swear because I swore. Instead I defaulted to my swear word alternative (the one I use when my little boy is present), "CURSES." It's funny, isn't it? That the word I use in place of a curse word is actually "curse"... the word. It seems like I should be able to employ that more often. Liv asked how I had been doing, and I told her that I was failing miserably. Her observation was that if I'd already sworn that much, what is a normal day like. It's true, if I actually slipped up 15 times, and I was TRYING, what is a normal day like?

I give myself credit for being aware. It did draw my attention to how much I actually swear, and most importantly, it did get me thinking about how those words land on other's ears. I can't imagine that everyone is so impressed by it. Again, not my most flattering feature. I had a friend once who took a cool approach to quitting smoking. She made a list of every place she smoked, and then started to eliminate them one by one. For instance, she knew she always smoked in her car, so she worked on not smoking in her car. Once she mastered that, she moved on to the next location where she smoked a lot and started cutting down in that area. I have a leg up, because I already know that I am capable of not swearing in certain situations. This is nice incentive. So, I think I might employ this technique in an effort to cut down on the potty mouth. It's about time for me to grow up. I'm going to start by not swearing when I'm alone. I know that seems backwards (after all, isn't the point of cutting down on the swearing to keep other's from hearing it), but I learned that that is where I do the bulk of my swearing. So, if I can master that... the rest should be cake. Maybe that will be my reward, a big F#$%!in' cake. (That didn't count, right?)

Next week, I'm hopefully going to do something so completely out of character, and shoot a hunting rifle.


  1. Rats! You really frogged this one up for me.

    I lost a big fricking pile of money on a bet with a friend that you darned-well could go a whole day without swearing.


  2. I've always been impressed by your expressive vocabulary!

  3. I love your posts -- I like how you are so self-aware and willing to share with all of us. Plus, I'm just shocked that you swear that much -- you'd never know it from listening to you on the radio!


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