Many moons ago, the editor of one of my on-line parenting communities (i.e. an addictive little pocket of people on the Net who collectively served as my personal sanity cocktail from dawn until dusk) posed an interesting question: What was my favorite curse word substitute? In brief, she wanted to know what sort of word or words I regularly use in place of the filth that I should be ashamed to admit I even know—let alone use on occasion.
Lo and behold, the topic proved highly popular among a gamut of contributors who then generated a strangely magnificent slew of cuss words, clearly and cleverly Mister Rogers-ized for the benefit of all. In fact, it could be reasonably estimated that great masses—herds actually—of moms and dads rushed to submit their entries, wearing their little fingers to the bone in the process, no doubt. Maybe it was cathartic for them. Like confessing to skipping pages in some of those dreadfully boring bedtime favorites or to having served the kidlets a less-than-wholesome snack after school more than once. Egads! Who knows, maybe it just plain felt good to come clean in a public venue—to divulge the truth about our despicable “potty mouths” once and for all. I know I felt better having shared.
As I scanned the ever-growing list of unmentionable verbiage, I was pleasantly surprised to be doused with the warmth of camaraderie that positively flourished among our motley crew. We were kindred spirits after all—parents whose buttons were routinely pushed—driven to let fly horrible (yet somehow remarkable) strings of things we should never say in the presence of our impressionable youth. Cursing that infamous blue streak, as it were (albeit, a kinder gentler blue streak). Of course, I took note of curious terms that apparently flowed like lemonade within other households—especially those nifty little nuggets of speech I had never before envisioned using in place of the real deal. Naturally, they have since been added to my inventory of things-I-can-bellow-with-wild-abandon—even in front of the kids.
Needless to say, I shared my choice phrase with the best of them, eagerly offering up the whys and wherefores of my patented utterance, “Son-of-a-buffalo!” Many agreed it was classic and had stood the test of time. It was also practical, in that it was juuuuust lengthy enough to allow for reprogramming in mid-tirade—that magical window of time during which gears shift in the language factory, the brain catches up with the lips and whatever sinful blurb that was going to be produced gets transformed into something far more G-rated. Unfortunately, I haven’t been as successful with those gloriously liberating mono-syllabic expressions—the ones that resonate with satisfaction and consummate relief. Thankfully, such instances of use are rare and I’ve had enough sense to shove a pillow over my mouth so that at best, that-which-I-shouldn’t-have-said is garbled. My theory: A muffled expletive is better than one that will be articulated perfectly at Show & Tell.
My “Son-of-a-buffalo!” submission was also thought to possess a certain element of fun. Yes, fun. It rolls off the tongue easily and naturally—almost as easily and naturally as its prototype. Almost. It’s fun for the kids, too. And by that I mean those goofy children of mine believe that said snippet is perhaps the most hilarious phrase ever spoken. Bar none. Shortly after it leaves my lips, they pummel me to death with all sorts of unanswerables. Like: “What does a son of a buffalo look like, Mom?” “How old is he?” “What’s his real name?” “Does the mom buffalo have any daughters?” I also get a lot of, “Say it again, Mom! Again! Again! And again! That’s SO completely funny!”
Good grief. Maybe I’d be better off going out with my cronies or my husband (as Crazed Parent) suggested, so that I might get that pent up vat of profanity out of my system periodically. It’s certainly worth a try. Naturally, someone would then order Buffalo wings and we’d have to cackle about the irony in that.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel