I don’t use curse words. Of all of my behavioral quirks, that is probably the most noticeable. It isn’t an affectation. I am not prudish about it or offended when others use them. I just don’t. I have one friend that has been trying to get me to swear for almost 20 years now. She hasn’t been successful. Although, if she had just asked before it became a thing between us, I probably would have. Back when I was a manager in a bookstore, I was legitimately threatened by a customer. I had to call the police to make sure I could safely go to my car. When the police were taking my statement, they asked me what the man who threatened me said. I repeated his words, including the four letter ones. After the police left, my coworkers mentioned that the strangest thing about the whole incident was that my statement to the police was the first time any of them had ever heard me use a curse word.
Naturally, I’m not unique. It is somewhat common among people of my parent’s generation and older to find people who do not swear. But for people my age and younger it is quite strange. But, the fact that I do not use curse words creates another strange thing about me. I am one of the few people of my generation that can curse. In order to curse, there needs to be contrast. If the same words are used to describe everything, there is no way to tell what is what. Listening to most people talk, a traffic jam, snow, an armed robbery and spoiled milk are all described in the same language. There’s no way to tell what is mildly annoying from what is devastating.
It’s surprising to me that new curse words haven’t appeared in the last 15-20 years. They would serve a purpose. The current ones have lost their power to shock, offend, insult or communicate. They are merely sounds people make. They are more like punctuation than words at this point.
I retain the power of curse words. At least, I think I do. I’m pretty sure if I ever used one, people would notice. And, I’m pretty sure they would recognize that something was different. Curse words would get my point across, if I ever wanted to get that kind of point across. I guess that’s the irony. The only way to have the power to curse is to never, or rarely, curse. It’s kind of an impotent power to have, but it’s nice to have powers.