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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Profanity Has Lost Its Meaning



While in a cab last night on our way to Petersburg, my compatriots and I were lectured by the driver on swearing. Her objections rambled on as we all looked sheepishly at each other and tried to fill the terribly awkward space with quiet conversations that deliberately avoided our usual, more colorful language. This clunky self-censorship produced gems such as:
“Hey… man, isn’t it… bad that we have to do extra PT this weekend.” “Yeah. That… Sucks. A lot. I can’t wait to be out of this… Place.” 

It’s moments like these that highlight how the Marine Corps has altered my language.  The term, “mouth like a sailor,” doesn’t do it justice. For one, we aren’t sailors, but we also probably swear a lot more than whatever sailor the person who coined that term was referring to. It’s become an essential, excuse me, it’s become a fucking essential part of our dialect. As a reservist I’ve been used to being a more or less normal person who communicates in a more or less normal fashion. Moving here to Fort Lee has brought the Marine dialect back with a vengeance. Now that I’ve settled in, my use of profanity is fucking ridiculous as shit. 

This habit began, like most, in bootcamp. By the first day the things you thought you knew the name of not only had new names but they had new profane prefixes as well. My bed was no longer a “bed”, it was a “rack”, but in practical application it was a “fucking rack,” as in: “make your fucking rack right now.” While in the bathroom, which was now a “head” (or, get in the fucking head), you would fight for a spot to fucking piss in a “pisser” or a “shitter” with ninety other fucking recruits and would fucking end up sharing one shitter with three other fucking idiots as you all tried not to look at anyone else’s fucking dick because we’re all shitty homophobes here, it’s pretty fucking depressing. 

 It’s also depressing that my swearing is limited to the usual suspects. There are rare spurts of creativity (see “Ass Bitch” from "Language Barriers and Chow") but they don’t do much to alter the profane landscape. With profanity having lost all of its novelty, I understand now why I tend to use it as punctuation. I’ll start off a sentence with a good fucking (boom phrasing, haha) just to order my thoughts and any other pauses can be covered with a searching “fucking…” as I try to recover my train of…  Shit. I’ve lost it. In the end it doesn’t carry any significance due to overuse, which is why we were so shocked by the cab driver’s opinion.

Speaking of the cabbie, her distaste for our language was actually relevant to the changing circumstances here at Fort CripplingDepression. We have a new female welding student, the first in a few months. After sitting through multiple lectures by different instructors each threatening us with castration if we even think about touching her, we were also informed that we’re not allowed to use sexist language in her company. This doesn’t affect my profanity so much (I try to be socially-conscious in my swearing), but it does limit the type of running repeat-after-me cadences we’re allowed to do during PT. I guess there’s no more singing about how I’m going to murder superman and sleep with his girlfriend (no, for real though, there’s a cadence I’ve been singing in which the archetype Marine hits superman in the head with kryptonite and then dates Louis Lane, who then has a baby that is born mentally retarded and ends up joining the Navy).

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