When I was a kid, I used to spend the month of August at a Girl Scout sleep-away camp. Come the end of July the counselors had had a month of camp songs and there was always one that they were thoroughly sick of. So it would be officially banned by the time I got there.
Well, that’s how I feel about a particular four letter word – the one referred to as the f-bomb. That baby’s been dropped so many times, I find it merely annoying, especially when people use it three or four times in one sentence. I’d be willing to start a movement for its retirement on the grounds that it’s become a cliché.
Let’s test that out.
From the Merriam-Webster online Dictionary:
Definition of CLICHÉ
1: a trite phrase or expression; also : the idea expressed by it
2: a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
3: something (as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace
Yep! It passes.
But it wasn’t always so. When I was growing up in the fifties, hearing it on the school playground, (the Catholic school playground)was extremely rare. And if it was heard, it would bring forth a chorus of
Ooh, I’m going to tell Sister what you said.
And at home, our parents mostly used thinly disguised phonetically-altered hybrids like Gosh, Darn, Heck, and Shucks. You could go to a slew of movies and never hear more than Hell or maybe Damn.
Then came the 60’s, which as anyone who lived through them knows, didn’t really happen until the 70’s. But somewhere between The Summer of Love , the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and the Student Uprisings, we found, (yes you and I fellow Baby-boomers) we needed something a bit stronger than Shucks. But when we dropped f-bombs we did it with conviction, and as a verb. It wasn’t a mere place holder in our sentences.
No, for that we had like, you know, and man.
Like you know what I’m saying man? Like we were just standing there rapping, like you know, like it went on for hours. And then before I knew it, it was like, you know, time to go home.
In the 70’s people had started using it as an adjective. The first time this was pointed out to me was at the Jersey Shore where I used to go in on a time share house. It was early in the summer when the Atlantic retains its chill, and there we were, a bevy of bikini clad beauties standing at the water’s edge when a couple of Jersey Boys decided to show off their prowess by running and diving headlong into the surf.
I was standing next to Marty, who despite her name, was a fragile looking classical beauty with long blond hair and a sensitive nature that served her well as an art teacher. When the tough guys came slinking out, complaining about how cold the F-ing ocean was, Marty turned to me and, in all sincerity asked “What did the ocean ever do to him?”
I hope Marty,wherever she is, is wearing earplugs these days.
I’ve been thinking about this need for a new four letter word for a while now, but I didn’t really take up the cause until St Patrick’s Day. No, no, it was the day before St Patrick’s Day when I displayed lack of judgment by going into Manhattan. I’d already made the commitment before learning the St Patrick’s Day parade was being moved up a day because the 17th fell on a Sunday. Now if you’ve been following my blog you might remember that, for me, the St Patrick’s Day parade ranks up there with a quadruple root canal.
I soothed myself with the thought. How bad can it be? It wasn’t like I’d be taking the last train home, the one that, on St Patrick’s Day, is called The Vomit Comet (need I say more?) No, I planned on taking the 5:10 when all the revelers would still be reveling for hours.
Well, I was wrong. The 5:10 was worse.
It resembled a high school field trip exploring the effects of alcohol. I walked through seven cars trying to find a quiet one with a slightly older crowd, like over 18. Then I turned around and walked back. I considered taking the next train, but feared it would be worse. Finally I found a middle aged man trying to hide in a book and settled in next to him, hoping no one would upchuck on the hour long ride until I could escape at Peekskill.
It was the longest hour I’ve ever experienced. I’d picked a winner of a train car and a bonus seat – in front of three rowdy girls who were cheerleaders for discord as in dissing (as the young folks say) every boy who was within shouting range.
Man, like you know, those f-bombs’s were flying like all the way home, you know
It was then, probably to preserve my sanity, that I started trying to come up with a substitute. It hasn’t been easy. For a while I thought about spam. Not the canned meat – the computer junk mail. Everybody hates wading through it .
Like you know, man delete, delete, delete. It just like drives me crazy.
I tried using it in context “This is really spammed up!” “What a spamming pain in the A…
Then I realized it would never catch on with the young. They don’t email. They text.
Then yesterday –Eureka – I came up with it. The four letter word that the younger generation discovers at an early age and uses ad nauseum. Come on, parents and teachers you know what it is. B O R E as in “I’m bored!” “This is boring!”
Whaddya think? Let’s try it out in re-describing that train ride home.
“I got to boring Grand Central and I had to walk through seven boring cars filled with boring teenagers to find a boring seat. Now how bored up was that, I ended up in front of a pack of boring loud girls and……”
Yep, that works for me!