GUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or even just thinking of quitting, please join us! We kindly ask that politics be left out.
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By that, I mean that my everyday speech is sometimes punctuated with profanity. Oh, it's not excessive or even reflexive for the most part, but there are some choice expressions I occasionally blurt out under duress that I probably wouldn't want to air in front of colleagues, much less have my grandmother overhear.
I come by it honestly; my father was a Sailor and his father a Marine, two branches of the armed services famed for their grasp of the more socially inappropriate salty expressions. And of course I grew up in the verbally adventurous '60s and '70s, an era where edgy cinema and counterculture-inspired song lyrics introduced words and topics that would have been verboten just a few years earlier. George Carlin was one of the more prominent canaries in that coal mine.
A generation of post-Boomer Latchkey Kids discovered an impressive range of rather shocking words---and sometimes the pictures to go with them, if the scrambling on your Skinemax signal was cooperating---and they weren't afraid to use 'em. Despite Tipper Gore's efforts, casual profanity crept into our music, our movies, and our everyday conversation. Censors couldn't hit the "bleep button" fast enough. The rise of the internet and shock jock talk radio did not improve the situation.
Eventually, this translated into a culture that was a little less shocked by the occasionally vulgar turn of phrase, and to me letting those years of reprimands by my elders to "watch your language!" fall by the wayside a bit. Don't get me wrong, on a typical day little more than a discreet "shit!" or "damn it!" passes my lips, and I'm generally aware of the setting and my companions when they do. It's been this way for many years, with one notable exception: when I was quitting smoking.
During my quit, all bets were off when it came to my use of profanity. I'm not sure what it was (probably the existential death throes of a brain being rewired while it was being deprived of its favorite chemicals), but for a few weeks, I swore like a sailor. No, I swore like someone playing a sailor in a [NSFW, obviously] Quentin Tarantino movie. That is to say constantly, colorfully, explosively, and at great length. Stephen Fry was my homeboy.
I swore at everything, all the time, for no reason except that it seemed to help relieve the ever-present tension and stress I was experiencing. I was mad at my then-boss, frustrated at my job, climbing the walls at home, antsy, twitchy, inexplicably furious or frustrated with a thousand perfectly normal everyday things, and ready to verbally slice and dice anything and everything that set me off. And so I swore.
For a while, it was actually kind of freeing. I'd given myself permission to be as awful as I needed to be in the short term, to get past the worst of it. And maybe I just needed to get some of that pent-up toxicity out of my system, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so? Whatever it was, it was bad for a little while, and then---like some kind of crazy Hurricane of Expletives---it blew past and evaporated, and I was back to normal.
Quitting is hard, and folks in the GUS community frequently point out that it's okay to do pretty much whatever it takes to get through the process.
I couldn't bleep-bleeping bleepity bleep-bleepin' agree more.
Who's Your Li'l Buddy?
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