The Joy of Cussing


I love to curse.

When I was growing up, colorful language was the rule. Aunt Polly loved to swear. Aunt Carol could hold her own. Mom seemed more reserved—she would say eff this or eff that. If her sisters got too vulgar, she would chide them to cool out. I would sit in the living room, pretending to watch TV but listening to every word.

No surprise, then, that as an adult I don’t have good boundaries when it comes to my kids and foul language. Case in point: Last weekend Holly and the kids were watching Spaceballs, an old comedy from the 80s with a surprising amount of cursing.

Holly has been exploring old movies and TV shows with the kids, but this was the first with a good amount of cussing. Aaron and Kennedy don’t curse. This is all due to Holly’s good home training, but the kids have really taken to it. I’m a little disappointed. In our house the D-word is dumb and the S-word is stupid.

“Stupid,” I say with mild scorn. “Stupid is a bad word? That’s retarded.” And Aaron slugs me in the arm.

Spaceballs’s Major Asshole scene nearly tipped the old time movie viewing scales in our house. Holly threatened to turn off the TV, but the kids protested. “We’ve already heard all these words,” Kennedy said.

“Where?” Holly asked.

Immediately both kids cried in unison, “DAD!” When Holly told me this story, I laughed. I love to curse.

Here is my favorite cussing story: 

I joined the military when I was seventeen. This was back in the days when the Company Commander routinely cursed out the entire squad, just for good measure.


It was the first week and we were all—leaders and lambs—trying to feel out the situation. The Company Commander’s task was to break us down. He stormed up and down the barracks. We stood at attention at the end of our bunks. He was doing a pretty good job cussing us out. Something he said reminded me of sitting in the living room listening to my aunts swear in the kitchen. I snickered at in inopportune moment and he got right in my face.

“Are you amused, recruit!” he shouted.

I looked at my feet. I thought it was a retorical question, but he actually wanted an answer. He repeated his question, this time even louder and closer to my face.

“What’s so amusing, recruit!”

I was terrified. I didn’t know what to say, but decided honesty was my best apporach. 


I said it with earnestness and enthusiasm. He just looked at his feet. Out the corner of my eye, I could tell he was trying to hide a grin. After a few seconds, he said, “Aunt Polly likes to curse, does she?”

“Sir,” I said. “Yes sir.”

“Okay, then.”

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3 thoughts on “The Joy of Cussing

  1. Troy Elhajj says:

    Yea, Aunt Claire and Carol could curse in several different languages depending on what bar they were coming from.

  2. Tim Elhajj says:

    Those two are pretty colorful characters. Now I want to go see AP next time I’m in town!

  3. […] much, mostly because I haven’t been too interested in the picks—wacky old comedies, like Spaceballs or the old Pink Panther. The kids have been too young to enjoy anything really fun. As a general […]

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