Friday, October 23, 2009

Shut the Front Door

I know--I'm posting two days in a row. This is called procrastinating, because I'm supposed to be paying my bills on line and drumming up Bible study questions for next week. Before I get to that, I thought I'd blog on cussing.

Yesterday I was typing away on my as-yet-untitled sequel to MOURNING BECOMES CASSANDRA, which in itself was a procrastination tactic because I'm completely hung up on my YA novel and going nowhere fast. Anyhow, there is Joanie under my nimble fingers, and out of her mouth pops a cuss word. Now, as my readers know, I mostly confined the cussing in MBC to the non-churchgoing characters, but here was Joanie saying what she said. For a few minutes I considered options: (1) no cussing--but she was really ticked!; (2) saying indirectly, "Joanie let fly a frustrated expletive"--in my humble opinion I just think that leads the reader to substitute his favorite cuss word, in which case the synapse in his head fires no matter what; (3) just using the dinged word--I went with this; or (4) using what I did in (3), a euphemism.

Euphemisms happen to be my cussing style of choice with kids around. Euphemisms and my handy, but occasionally malfunctioning, personal mute button. (Aside: my oldest has gotten adept enough at reading my lips when I'm muted that I had a squirmy moment when we were watching the baseball playoffs, and one of the players had a lip-reading moment after striking out.) After saying "darn" in a sermon one week, my husband received an email reminding him that the euphemism is as bad as the cuss word in God's eyes--thank you, you sainted soul. If you happen to be reading this blog, please skip this post. Oh, and all my other posts. Oh, and probably my book, too.

In order for a euphemism to be effective as a substitute cuss word in times of frustration, it has to have a goodly number of syllables and feature satisfying consonants. Some of my personal go-to euphemisms include:

Admiral Chester T. Nimitz! (I found out his middle initial was actually "W," which prompted another euphemism.)

Newt Gingrich! (G's are particularly satisfying.)

Kaiser Wilhelm! (With the "W" pronounced as a "V," in true German fashion.)

And a new favorite, courtesy of Leslie M., to be said in tones of incredulity: Shut the front door!

Sample conversation:
Husband: Honey, I got a 200% raise today.

Wife: Shut the front door!

Any favorite euphemisms you want to share?

1 comment:

  1. We like "PICKLEs!" or "Hook!" (as in captain), though I know you have heard me use non-euphemisms as well.........

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