Ever have a kid embarrass you or someone you know in public? One of my favorite such stories comes from a former colleague, whose son was just a few years old when they went to see a movie at a local theater. After grabbing their tickets and making a customary trip to the concession stand to grab some popcorn and drinks, they headed to their seats. When his son tried to place his kid soda in the cup holder it was too small to stay in and fell right through to the floor, smashing his drink beneath them.
The little boy then proclaimed, “G*****n cup,” to which my friend was mortified. He said it was then he realized how much he cursed at home.
Let me correct myself. It was one my favorite stories, because at the time it happened I was not a parent. Now I relate to this story.
The other day I was attempting to clean up after my toddler, which those in the know can tell you is a monumental task. While doing the bend-and-walk to gather unused toys, I wasn’t able to get a good hold on one and kept dropping it. After the third attempt I became frustrated and said, “Well hell,” and continued in my attempts. A small voice behind me began to repeat my bad word in a very cute, Southern way: “Hey-yewl.” Granted we weren’t in public, but I immediately realized I too curse a lot at home and now that he is in mimicking mode, I need to curb the habit before it gets worse.
Or should I? You are taught not to curse because doing so gives others the impression you are less intelligent. Sailors in particular are guilty of it for some reason, so cursing like one seems to be quite a blemish on your reputation. Now science has proven sailors and I are actually smarter than our clean-mouthed counterparts. Why? We simply have a larger vocabulary.
The study comes from psychologists Kristin Jay and Timothy Jay of Marist College and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Their hypothesis is people who are well-versed in curse words are more likely to have greater overall language fluency too. In other words, the more words you know the more uniquely you can express yourself.
So all those surprised looks from family and friends over the years at how an on-air personality like me could have such colorful language should have instead exchanged a collective gaze of awe at the capacity of my brain. It’s okay, I understand how intimidating me and my internal dictionary must be.
So if we run into each other on the street, and Mr. Carter drops an accidental f-bomb or declares where something can go if he doesn’t like it, try not to clamor for photographs at his genius. Just thank his mother for being so progressive.
Article originally published in the Georgia Voice.