Monday, April 18, 2011

Far Fr**king Out

Some of you might find this post offensive; I apologize to you in advance. There, doesn’t that make it all better? What I am trying to do here is manage impact. I may not even get around to insulting you or something you care about, but I’ve worked at managing the impact if I do.

Another way to manage impact is to re-frame the insult. There are many ways to do this, and I like the most immature and transparent methods. One popular way in Utah is with simple word replacement. The word freak is often used to replace the word f**k in common usage.

The first time I thought AOD came into contact with this simple replacement strategy was when an acquaintance (let’s call him Sam) was repairing a spring loaded clip. The ends of the spring’s windings stuck out and pressed against the clip housing to hold it closed. In order to repair the clip Sam needed to put the spring under a little torque while re-assembling the clip’s pivot point. The actual mechanics are not all that important here; picture a spring loaded laundry pin if you need an image.

What inevitably happened was the pivot point parts slipped from his grasp and the one of the spring’s sharp exposed ends tore across his thumb, palm and wrist. Sam dropped the remaining clip parts, grabbed the now slightly bleeding tear in his hand, and exclaimed through gritted teeth:


After seeing that Sam’s injuries were mostly superficial I turned to AOD who looked stunned.

“Do you know what Sam meant when he yelled ‘FREAKING’?” I asked her.

“He really meant to say f**k, but Mormons use the word freak instead of saying f**k” She replied nonchalantly.

I was a bit taken aback. Firstly it was obvious that this was not the first time AOD had come into contact with the freak – f**k replacement strategy. Secondly I realized I should be more careful with my language at home. Thirdly, I realized it was both rather cute and rather disturbing to hear a eight-year-old say f**k with such precision. Fourthly, it appeared as if Sam was more insulted by AOD’s analysis than by the physical insult to his hand.

I have purchased a very large version of the spring that tore through Sam’s hand. I plan on using it in a contraption which builds on the dangerous potential of a high torque spring with tremendous amounts of leverage afforded by long wooden arms. I want to fling moderately-sized projectiles with it. I want them to go long distances. I want the whole flinging motion to present a flagrantly dangerous fluid melding of form and impact. I want people to see this flinging thingamajig in operation and exclaim:

“Holy FREAK”

Big Dangerous Spring and Box Cutter

Sometimes I purposefully oversubscribe the freak – f**k replacement. Since f**k is a colloquial term for other things - like sexual intercourse - I sometimes use freak to replace those terms in statements like: “unprotected anal freaking can increase the transmission rates of diseases such as HIV”.

I have fun with the freak-f**k replacement. Any problem I have with it is in the depreciation of the word freak. Rick James may have used freak ambiguously when he crooned “you’re a super freak”, but the term “I’m freaking out” means something entirely different if you replace freak with f**k. Is ‘Freakanomics’ only concerned with capitalism in the sex industry? While I may enjoy being misinterpreted when I ask to “get freaky” with you the same misinterpretation of: “using the angle grinder on that pipe produces freaky sparks; let’s turn off the lights and do it in the dark” could lead to painful dermal abrasions.

Despite these problems the freak –f**k replacement is necessary in Utah. Enough people become so upset at using the word f**k (they call it “dropping the f-bomb) that accidental use of it effectively halts conversations. Regardless of whether a rational person might think the topic of the conversation is more important than any inadvertent “dropping of the f-bomb”, the f-bombing can transform a conversation into admonitions, apologies, and apoplexy.

I don’t use f**k in conversation very often. This is partially due to my inability to accurately pronounce the ‘*’ character, and partially to avoid insulting people who find the use of f**k objectionable.

I may not mean to insult people when I say f**k, but impact is much more tangible than intent.

Luckily I apologized up front for this post.


joanindc said...

I really think you are the perfect person to be living in Utah. Not only are you able to patiently endure cultural peculiarities that might annoy the hell out of the rest of us, but you are also able to convey and describe them to us with mischievious amusement instead of contempt. (OK, not always, but usually.) By all means, keep it up!

adult onset atheist said...

One of the other advantages of having me live in Utah is that (due to the very low population density) when I construct catapults their moderately-sized projectiles are less likely to crash through the windows of anyone.