Good boys do not cuss. Good “church boys” do not think of cussing. I am a sanctified and sanctimonious, dyed-in-the-wool born again, filled with the Spirit, good church boy. It should never cross my mind even the possibility of using an unholy word. I still cuss anyways.
I think I should clarify the extent of my incongruity with the remotest ideas of cussing. I come from the most conservative of conservative church denominations. I have been a model choir boy all my life. I speak good English complete with a posh accent. I went to decent enough private schools to sound pretentious. I grew up with a mother whose favourite phrases were “enunciate dear” and “precise words darling”. And I was sheltered enough not to have understood the dynamics of negotiating for a bus in Nigeria till I was well past 18 simply because I was chauffeur driven everywhere. I am a 90s kid whose dad screened every movie I ever saw. He threw such a fit when he found out that I had seen ‘Pretty Woman’, you would have thought it was a porn flick. And I was 19!
Somebody please tell me why on earth I should be cussing…
…Maybe it’s because of the sheer brevity of its eloquence. Instead of creating a thesis about an individual’s penchant for extreme stupidity, it’s easier to refer to said human as a “dumb fvck”. See? Two words to carry all my angst and vitriol without losing the edge. It’s the perfect cheat sheet. I’m sure that said individual perfectly understands me and without a doubt, appreciates the extent of my wrath. Somehow, it gives me a certain relief to have gotten all that off my chest in just two words.
Believe it or not, cussing is plain cool. English is quite repressed and noble, thanks to its Victorian heritage but with a few choice cuss words, you don’t have to worry. Just by mentioning the chief of all cuss words, ‘fvck’, you transition from an uptight prude of BBC ramifications to perfectly liberated, left wing, French/Italian sexiness. And what’s more, you can do all that with class. It’s a bargain! Not to say that there is no more apt verb form than the ‘f’ word for ‘sex’, but all the other words are either too grotesquely graphic or too stiff to serve the purpose.
I cuss sometimes for no good reason whatsoever; other than to let off steam. Next time you have one of those stifling bad days – when you feel deeply in the dumps and you want to just curl up and just die, let out a good string of cuss words, the worst that you know. Just be sure that it disappoints you, your pastor or religious mentor, and every other person who can hear you and who cannot. Simply because it feels good, because it feels like a release of all the antsiness on the inside, cuss. Cuss! Sometimes I shout it out loud in quiet neighbourhoods just because. Doctors who are bored enough (or cool enough) to study these things say it might really be healthy for your mind.
A little snag though, cuss words don’t look as good in print as they sound in speech. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe my mind is not yet comfortable with the fact that I use words that I once termed really bad. And reading in my head just magnifies the horror I feel. It’s almost like swallowing a bitter pill. Except it’s getting easier and easier to swallow and I fear that’s what happens to drug addicts; they come to that point where they can no longer do without the pill. I hope I never get there.
Now, that’s not for moral reasons or whatever is fitting into society. It is not an isolated phenomenon. Being deviant and irreverent is fitting into a different section of society. We are social beings. As much as we do not like to admit it, we thrive on acceptance and love and cooperation. We need this love and acceptance; we survive on approval of friends and/or relatives. We are programmed by these algorithms of approval and disapproval. Our habits and predominant actions are a representation of what kind of friends we are closer to. I admit it; my cussing is a product of a new set of friends—real and virtual; a new set of heroes. They have always been there though, but I just began to give them more attention. I think it’s a new perspective, but it’s just a flip-side of the same coin I have always had. It’s not really that new a thing. As I write this, I realise that I have simply began to conform to my new friends. I have become another human seeking validation and trying too hard to be approved of
There is another problem with my new habit. I do not know what to do with my old friends, and family. Most of them are deeply spiritual church folk. My cussing greatly offends and distresses them and it’s beginning to seem like the only way I can ease into my new alliances is to cut off the old ties. I do not want to.
I would have wanted a trade off. Can I keep the different aspects of me for my different set of friends? Or keep all my friends old and new, and keep the (bad) habits too. Turns out that underneath the brash shell of my tough-talking exterior, hides a self-conscious, needy, human child. Remember this next time u see a “hard man”—a child that wants to both have his cake and eat it. A conscious confrontation with my subconscious was all I needed to notice this trend. This is the stuff of epiphanies!
Putting it in this context makes the call to action clear enough. It becomes a selfish, self serving decision rather than an abstract moral dictate. I may stop my cussing streak, I still may not. But if I continue, it will be because I have considered d pros and the cons and I still want to continue. If I don’t, which most likely will be the case, then, it may just be a victory for morals. I’m sure I still got that church boy somewhere inside.
Zikora is a Radio producer/presenter, and writer. Lover of books and bread. In his spare time, he writes about himself in the third person. Follow him on twitter@z1kora