Monday, March 15, 2010


There are times in life when we are all challenged to take the next step and move forward toward maturity, adulthood and enlightenment. For instance: learning to cuss.

I did not hear a lot of cussing in my house growing up. It was frowned on and I’m thankful for that. But it was a constant friend in the neighborhood. Some of the kids were masterful with it. The cussing flowed like chocolate syrup on the vanilla ice cream of life. And so it was that I tried to use this particular art in one of my endless attempts to fit in. And the plan was simple. I thought I’d learn the cussing thing. It seemed easy to figure out and it was an easy way to prove my manhood to the other kids in the neighborhood.

So I started in one day. I cussed and I cussed. I didn’t think for a second about the meaning of the words. It didn’t matter. Each word was simply a key for getting in the door of acceptance. And the kids in the neighborhood helped me! They told me which words were most appropriate in whichever situations. They high fived me when I got it right. It was very affirming. All day long, cuss cuss cuss, every other word. Icouldabeenagangsta.

When I went home in the evening, after being unaccounted for all day, I started to get nervous that I would accidentally cuss in front of my parents. I wasn’t sure, but I thought there was a good chance my mom would immediately kill me if she heard me cuss. Probably with a sawed off shot gun or a dull knife. And she’d do it in front of my brothers and sisters to make a good example of me, my blood spraying across their tender, horrified faces. But I somehow managed to control myself.

Over the next few days I couldn’t wait to get out there and practice my art. Cuss cuss cuss. Hey man, how’s it cussing goin’? Cussing great! Well I’m cussing glad to hear it. We should get our cussing bikes and cussing go to the cussing creek and try to find some cussing turtles or snakes. Cuss yeah, man! I bet there’s cussing all kinds of cussing turtles out there. Cuss.

Being me, I think I was enjoying the creativity of it. It took careful effort to fit all of those expletives in at just the right spot, to get the nuances correct. It was like a new toy. I loved it. But a few days later, the guys took me aside and sat me down on the porch to explain something to me. They told me I was taking things too far. Cussing was great, but I was overdoing it. I was cussing so much it was annoying them. Too cool to be cool. So they asked me to tone it down a bit. And I did. Failing once again to get it right with the indiscernible madness of human interaction.


When I was at university, an English professor said that cussing had no true meaning and was really a form of violence. He said that anyone can cuss, but not anyone can express their true heart. And I found that very challenging. I don’t know if he was completely right, but I think he was on to something. I learned how to cuss and I have since learned to put it behind me. Mostly. I have to confess that even now, decades later, the urge is still there sometimes. When you least expect it, it can rise, easy to the tongue. But I think the prof was right. I think it’s a good thing to want what you say to matter and have meaning. That simple desire could shape our connections to others into something more beautiful and true.

Matthew 12:36-37
Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2010


  1. It's very much like riding a bike. A horrible, horrible @#$%^& bike....

  2. The bad stuff always comes easy. The good stuff takes the work.


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