I come from a long line of folks who appreciate a good curse word. When I was a child, if I heard the words, “JEEsus, Mary and Joseph!” I knew my Irish granddaddy was pissed. That and “Dammit to HELL!” were his favorites. I’m told that, during childbirth, my grandmother cursed up a storm, using words that Granddaddy had never even heard…and he had been in the Navy! I heard her turn her own husband’s name into a curse word more than once…she could yell, “JOHN!” with more anger and venom than any curse word I could ever come up with.
My mama used to threaten to wash our mouths out with soap if we used ‘foul language’, but I don’t think it ever really happened (and wouldn’t that be child abuse these days?) As I’ve mentioned before, Mama can squeeze more syllables out of the word shit than anyone I’ve ever heard, and it makes me proud to see her do it with all the force her 4’11” can muster. She’s not a fan of the F word though, and loves to say, “Ya’ll know I hate that word!” when my sister or I let it slip out in front of her. Unfortunately for her, this often just prompts my sister to tease her mercilessly by getting up in Mama’s face and evilly whispering, “Fuck…fuckfuckfuck.” It sounds cruel, but it usually cracks Mama up and we all hoot at how cute she is when she gets flustered.
My own curses tend to vary widely, depending on my mood. I actually do use dagnabbit pretty frequently (which I realize probably makes me sound like I’m from Hootersville). I will sometimes use the F word, but shit is probably more my go-to (although I certainly don’t have my mama’s panache). When I’m really upset I might hollar out a good old, “God damn it to hell,”…a minor improvement on Granddaddy’s version, and a pretty good indicator that I really am mad.
I had a boyfriend many years ago who told me that when he was little he knew he’d get in trouble if he cussed. ..so he just made up his own cuss word. I guess someone in his house also used some version of my granddaddy’s Goddamnit phrase, so as a little boy he decided that ‘Be-dennit‘ sounded like a safe alternative. I could just see a 5-year-old throwing his personal swear word around with conviction, hands clinched and a go-to-hell look on his little face!
I applaud his creativity; I definitely like be-dennit much more than the soulless F-word substitutes of frigging and effing. I mean, gosh darn it, why bother?