Take “humdinger”. Wow, you really don’t hear that one anymore unless you’re watching old Andy Griffith reruns. But I like that word. “Man, you missed a humdinger of a time last night!” You just know the person is talking about an event where people had fun in a family friendly kind of way. It wasn’t the drunk and naked kind of fun. Nobody has a humdinger of a time at the Ozzy Osbourne concert, not even Andy Griffith.
Umptedoo. That doesn’t even show up in a Google search. How do you even spell umptedoo? “We haven’t seen her in umpteedo years!” I made the mistake of using that word in an office setting once. They all stared at me until somebody said, “Wow, you sound like my grandmother!”
Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. There’s the person who did go to the Ozzy Osbourne concert. They have about five adjectives and all of them are curse words. Those words are used to describe anything from a pink dress they’re purchasing for their daughter to the act of getting punched in the stomach.
I have no problem with curse words. Let’s demystify them. No biggie. However, you can immediately judge a person who meets you for the first time and uses a string of cussing. They obviously don’t care who you are. You could be deeply religious, a teacher who avoids cursing, or a person like me who saves the cursing for the people I love the most (kind of funny how that works).
I come from the school of thought that you kind of have to figure out who you’re talking to before you unleash the hounds, but there are many who have no perception of social boundaries. We make “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” signs for them or get them jobs in Hollywood. The Andy Griffith show has been off the air for a long time.
Of course, you can immediately peg a comic book geek by his adjectives. Maybe it depends on the era of the comic book geek. My era was filled with “Super”, “Spectacular”, “Amazing” and pretty much anything Spider-Man did. Later on, post-Stephen if you will, “Awesome” was used until it was banned in some cities.
But more than the obvious hyperbole, I think comic book readers have better adjectives all around. They’re just more descriptive people. I could say the same about people who regularly read books, but comics go the extra mile to punch up language.
That’s why I firmly believe that if you’re quick enough you can think of a good insult without using average, everyday, “No Shirt, No Service” curse words. One of my favorites casts me in a bad light, but I’ll let it be known.
Years ago, my long-time girlfriend Candy (not my wife) was doing something that I thought was disgusting. It’s not worth mentioning what it was, because it might seem stupid to you and it was just a way she was eating her food. I blurted out that she was a “feces-eating dog”.
Her response was classic. “What??? What am I??” I, of course, backpedaled right through the wall. It quickly became a funny joke between us. So when we were dining with a group of people we didn’t know that well, she decided to tell the charming story of how Stephen called her a feces-eating dog.
The happy table was immediately soundless. Their heads just kind of fell into a shocked, blank slate and they turned to me at the same time. Candy was laughing. We never really hung out with them after that.
I guess that means that you can come up with insults without using curse words that are still impolite to use unless you know the people you’re around. Personally, I consider that a challenge.