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What the F**K?

November 6, 2013

I have good cause to place my wife on a pedestal; she’s a great wife and mother, a marvelous listener and a kinder person you’ll never meet. In the two and a half years since I started this blog I’ve extolled Mrs. Chatterbox’s virtues, but I think it’s time to throw a bucket of reality on the woman I’ve shared my life with for forty years. Believe me, she ain’t perfect. She has a serious flaw, a disability of considerable proportions. My lovely wife can’t curse to save her soul.


Over the years I’ve had to work extremely hard at my own swearing. I’m cursed with a mouth that, like a cat, curves upward at the corners. People often think I’m being smug or sarcastic when I’m not. This feline expression has ruined me as a convincing foul mouth. When I curse people laugh—not the result I’m aiming for. If only I had a dollar for every time someone told me to wipe that smirk off my face. Well it doesn’t wipe off, so screw you!


Family and friends tend to think Mrs. Chatterbox is too much of a lady to hurl foul epithets, and for the most part this is true, but on those rare occasions when she’s built up a full head of steam she might be inclined to swear if only she was better at it. Poor thing—she suffered a swearing tragedy when a young girl.


When she was seven or eight years old she was walking home from school one day when she noticed a boy her age following behind. She squeezed her books to her chest and picked up her pace. He did the same. When she slowed down, so did he. She began running. So did he. She wasn’t able to lose him.


What to do? She recalled a certain word she’d heard spoken, an utterance that seemed to have magical power, a curse word that announced to the world that the user wasn’t to be trifled with. But it wasn’t a word she’d ever voiced before. Should she dare? Could she even say it properly? Again, she tried outrunning him, but he was faster. She might have approached the boy and threatened to kiss him if he didn’t leave her alone (surely that would have terrified him) but finally she stopped running, spun around and shouted, “Leave me alone you nasty little FICKER!”


As Mrs. Chatterbox tells it, she made her escape when the boy started laughing so hard he dropped his books.



Grandma Chatterbox phoned while I was writing this post and we got into a discussion about swearing. Unlike Mrs. Chatterbox, my mother has little problem launching expletives, all the while claiming she never swore when I was growing up. I told her she was nuts; she had a favorite swear word and used it all the time.


“What word are you talking about?” she asked.


“It was a rare day when you didn’t use the word crap. You were constantly saying, ‘Don’t give me any of that crap,’ or ‘That’s a bunch of crap,’ or you’re full of crap.’ Do you deny it?”


There was a rare pause on her end of the line and I foolishly believed I’d made my point.


“Crap isn’t a swear word,” she said.


“Of course it is. If I’d used that word as a kid I’d soon be blowing bubbles from the bar of soap you’d have shoved in my mouth.”


“I tell you crap isn’t a swear word! It’s slang. Look it up on that computer of yours.”


“So you’re saying slang is okay?”




“So you won’t take offense if occasionally I tell you you’re full of crap?”


“That would make you a disrespectful little bastard.”


The prosecution rests.







You tell me: Is crap a swear word?




Douglas Adams needed a radio friendly expletive for his show The Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy and struck upon "Belgium" as being the worst insult in the galaxy - which goes to show that anything used in the right way can be a swear word
By: dont feed the pixies on November 6, 2013
I think crap came about from WWI when there were portable toilets referred to as crappers because of the name brand or some such thing. My personal feeling is that really only "Jesus Christ!" or "Goddamnit!" should be considered bad since they're the ones that violate that commandment about taking the lord's name in vain. The rest we shouldn't give a crap about.
By: PT Dilloway on November 6, 2013
"Crap" is sorta on the cusp. It might be considered the very bottom rung of the profanity ladder. If it will help Mrs. C I'll ask K to give her some pointers. (K was in the Navy for 10 years and could have been a cursing instructor. She's much reformed today, though.)
By: Scott Cody Park on November 6, 2013
This topic reminds me of George Carlin's take on the word... 'F&*K. Which leads to me state that it depends on the words that precede and those that follow the word 'Crap'. Then you must judge how it was conveyed (tone, emphasis etc.).
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 6, 2013
I think 'crap' isn't a swear word. I use it like 'Don't talk crap to me' or 'This food is so crappy'. I used it as a substitute for garbage! :D And I think 'Jesus Christ' and 'Goddamnit' should not be used. Because its not a good thing taking Lord's name with an intention to swear like that.
By: Manju on November 6, 2013
The first comment is right! The name of the person who invented the toilet was, honestly, Crapper! So I would say that means the word 'crap' is not a swear word!
By: The Broad on November 6, 2013
I love this post!!! I worked at IBM right after hubby and I got married and there was a girl there that was holier than thou. No really she deemed herself more saint-like than any saint. When I occassionally would say damn or hell. she would stop whatever she was doing and pray for my soul. BUT she used the word crap ALL THE F***** time. At one point, I mentioned to her that the word crap was exactly the same as the word shit so she needed to get over herself. She told me I was going to go to hell. I might of said. Oh crap!
By: Cheryl P. on November 6, 2013
Brilliant post. And crap is not a curse word unless you are under 16 years old. I don't know's just a rule.
By: Cranky on November 6, 2013
it used to be. hey, suck used to be, too! :)
By: TexWisGirl on November 6, 2013
The older I get, the more I swear. Both my daughters are keen on fuck and shit, and I seem to be becoming as foul mouthed as them.
By: LL COOL JOE on November 6, 2013
I appreciate folks like Mrs. Chatterbox who don't find it necessary to flower their speech with off color words. I on the other hand can't help myself most of the time. Your Mom on the other hand is a hoot.....and her response is classic. No, I don't think crap is a "bad word". It's the only word of that genre that the grands can use, legally around these parts. And that rule was handed out by my daughter who.....scares me sometimes with the words she comes up they just are, ya know? We call that...the nut doesn't fall far from the tree around Casa de Cuckoo.
By: Oma Linda on November 6, 2013
My mother used to hate it when I used the term "pissed off." She had to get used to it, though, because in my first job I was PO'd a lot of the time and would call her to complain about it. Glad she never knew how often I used the F word in those days.
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on November 6, 2013
While I do swear on the rare occasion, I think it is a lazy man/woman's way of communicating.
By: Tabor on November 6, 2013
I grew up listening to my father swear in anger many times throughout the day. I don't know if there's a connection, but I swear more than most people, but certainly a lot less than some. Peggy rarely does so.
By: Snowbrush on November 6, 2013
I always thought "crap" was a scatalogical word not necessarily a swear word.....Russell uses it a lot when playing I am rather fond of the F bomb when totally PO'd.
By: Kathe W. on November 6, 2013
I'm laughing so hard. I don't think crap is a swear word, but I don't think fuck is one, either. Give me one week with Mrs. C. and I'll have her swearing like a sailor. People think I'm sarcastic, too, and I am. A colleague at a newspaper once mentioned me in her column and said I looked like the cat that denied eating the canary even though a yellow feather was stuck between my teeth. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on November 6, 2013
Mrs. Chatterbox's inability to curse reminds me of the time I was driving & tried to give someone the finger - & did the peace sign instead. They were so confused!
By: The Bug on November 6, 2013
I don't think it's a swear word. It's a PG-rated replacement, like "darn." I use suck and don't consider it a swear word either as opposed to TexWisGirl up above. Mrs. Chatterbox sounds absolutely adorable. My kind of lady. :-)
By: Lexa Cain on November 6, 2013
Nonstandard, and rather rude, slang. When i need to let off steam, i have learned to ask permission to say a bad word. When permission is given, i then say, "Bad word, bad word, bad word!" It helps, it makes everyone laugh.
By: mimi on November 6, 2013
How the $#*&@^% should I know?
By: f on November 6, 2013
When we were kids, we couldn't even say the word 'fart.' We had to use the euphemistic "drop a bomb." Of course, this never stopped the old man from demanding, "Who the hell shit their pants?"
By: Al Penwasser on November 6, 2013
Ficker sounds like a pretty good word to me...
By: Shelly on November 6, 2013
Your mother's defense and denial about swearing has a typical ring to it.
By: red on November 6, 2013
1. Mrs. C swore in German..."Ficker" is the German word for what she meant to say. 2. I'm rolling on the floor about The Bug's peace sign. 3. Your post reminded me of this: "Heck is where people go who don't believe in Gosh."
By: Pixel Peeper on November 6, 2013
1. Mrs. C swore in German..."Ficker" is the German word for what she meant to say. 2. I'm rolling on the floor about The Bug's peace sign. 3. Your post reminded me of this: "Heck is where people go who don't believe in Gosh."
By: Pixel Peeper on November 6, 2013
That's pretty funny. I never thought crap was a swear. I've got a mouth like a truck driver, says my mother. The same woman who at 88, will chew you up and spit you out if you piss her off.
By: Bouncin Barb on November 6, 2013
I don't let my kids use it , but that doesn't mean they don't hear worse from me in the heat of the moment.
By: David Walston on November 6, 2013
I really don't like to hear women swear using the f-word and worse, it just doesn't sound right, or maybe it's due to the generation I was raised in. Nowadays, it seems to be part of breathing. You can't go anywhere these days without hearing swear words attached to every sentence. I wonder if the younger ones even know what half of those words mean? Crap isn't a swear word to me, but it's a way to get your point across in a firm way though.
By: Rum Punch Drunk on November 6, 2013
Crap is not a swear word. Kid's don't get in trouble for using it at school.
By: Val on November 6, 2013
Your post is so very funny Stephen.
By: John on November 7, 2013
My father used to say "Hell." My mother said "Heck." And I remember my grammar school teacher would say "Hades" -- always with a little twinkle in her eye which told us, she meant business.
By: tom sightings on November 7, 2013
Crap used to a swear was heck and darn. Nowadays, all three are just milder expletives for what folks really want to say.
By: Terri on November 8, 2013
I'd like to have a mouth that curves upwards at the corners. It would mean I didn't get the constant "cheer up, it may never happen" from workmen as I pass. On the other hand, Tony Blair's mouth turned up at the corners, and look what a smug bastard he was. (Whoops!) Nice post, I enjoyed it! :) Your mom sounds like a woman after my own heart.
By: Jenny on November 8, 2013
At least Mrs Chatterbox senior didn't call you a 'mother-ficker'! My wife is the opposite of yours when it comes to swearing - she makes me blush sometimes.
By: Bryan Jones on November 9, 2013
sadly, my kids have heard every foul word in the english language come out of my mouth. my husband hardly ever uses curse words though.
By: lime on November 11, 2013
No, but shit is. ;)
By: Hilary on November 15, 2013

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