When I was a child, as punishment for swearing, I had my mouth washed out with soap. Twice, and neither time was deserved:
The first: My oldest sister kept telling me to "Copy what I say! Say it after me!" Once she got me to say "dammit," she tattled and I had my first taste of Ivory soap.
The second: I had stayed home from school, but apparently a cold is not an excuse to sleep, so Mom put me to work. While cleaning out the pantry, I started singing a little song. Rhyming the word "lucky" as you make your way through the alphabet will also get your mouth washed out with soap.
In the first case, I was five. In the second, not more than seven.
After that, I didn't really swear until college--yes, the occasional "dammit" but definitely not the f-bomb. And unless you've waited tables, you probably didn't know that the job came with an advanced degree in the fine art of swearing (MFAS). Off the floor, the cures fly thick and fast and, before I knew it, I had picked up the habit which has proved harder to break than smoking. But now that whole "do as I say and don't repeat what I say" thing isn't going to work anymore, as Hannah pointed out on our flight to Georgia for Thanksgiving.
Me: "Dammit! The seat is broken! . . . . . Oh, um, remember: that's one of those words that you're not supposed to say."
Hannah: "Well then, maybe you shouldn't say it either."
So now I have my New Years Resolution chosen for me, and early at that. The trouble is that I'm not good at sticking to the things that are supposed to make me better in some way: losing weight, working out, reading more, writing my book, quitting my foolish competition with European wine drinkers . . . . So how the he ck am I supposed to stop swearing?
Some people, I've heard, charge themselves a quarter and then buy a reward for reaching certain goals. But what? Dessert? No--this would just bring us back to the whole "don't like push ups" thing. Shoes? Clothes? Books? Sadly, don't need (as in "can't justify, even if my language becomes as pure as Mother Theresa's") the first two, and don't want to add another couple of books to the pile already waiting. A donation to a good cause might seem like a good idea on it's face, but it is, as the others, a disincentive: If I charge myself a quarter every time I swear, where is the incentive to stop? I'd have a new pair of Jimmy Choos in a couple of days, a week, tops. And I can't lose weight fast enough for the new wardrobe I could purchase. As for the donation? If I were to donate every quarter to the cause, why would I want to stop swearing if it would dry up my donation?
No, the answer is in donating to a cause whose mission makes my skin crawl and the bile rise in my throat. An organization which would (in this way only) get my check and which could, at the very thought of my writing said check, shock away every bit of natural color left in my hair. That's right: Nati*onal R*ght to L*fe. (I've added a few characters so I don't show up on a Google search. Anyone know if I can bleach that term from my own search history?) While this challenge doesn't start until January 1, I've already managed to scare myself at least a bit straighter. The day after I decided on this course, I owed them a phantom $2.50 by 9:00. Yes, 9:00 in the morning. But after less than one week, with more "drats," "darnits," and even "hecks," I'm down to maybe .50-.75 per day, which is a huge improvement. So as long as I remember to apply duct tape before I hit the highway, I might be OK.
*For clarification: This applies to verbal mishaps only. It will in no way, shape or form change the Weekly Dammit. Whenever the Dammit decides to come back online, that is.