Saturday, January 25, 2014

I Swear

The week before last, right before my computer charger fizzled and popped and died, was not a good one. I was lost in three days of depression and darkness that the full moon did nothing to brighten; in fact it made it harder to sleep, which made my mind even more foggy. However, the immediate crisis of not having a computer woke me up, and being stressed and annoyed was better than being apathetic and despairing. I'm back to normal now, whatever that means.

But I've been thinking about swear words, when not actually using them in the process of getting my computer up and running again. You know how "darn" and "fudge" and suchlike are used in English to replace the much more satisfying "damn" and "fuck" (minced oaths, they're called)? The same practice occurs in French: merde ("shit") becomes mercredi ("Wednesday"), and putain ("whore," but used as an exclamation of anger/pain/surprise like "son of a bitch!" rather than name-calling) becomes purée ("mashed potatoes") or punaise ("thumbtack"). Many people say flûte (which means exactly what it looks like) or mince ("slender") though I'm not sure what those are euphemistically replacing. And I actually heard someone say zut, alors! a few days ago as he was searching for the photo-quality paper he'd misplaced so that he could take my US-regulation-conforming passport pictures.

I think that the next time I'm feeling apathetic, I'm going to channel that emotion into anger instead - anger at myself, at the universe, at things I can't control, at things I can control, at everything and nothing at all - and go outside and scream at the sky: "MASHED POTATOES! WEDNESDAY! THUMBTACKS!" And that will make me laugh and my anger will drain away, and I'll be able to take a deep breath and shake out my shoulders and set myself back to work. Bon sang de bonsoir!

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