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by Martin Green


I’ve never liked obscenity. Recently my wife and I tried a new cable TV series that had gotten good advance reviews. Two couples and their young children were having dinner together. Every other word of dialogue was an obscenity. What was especially objectionable was that the parents referred to their kids as a—holes. After five minutes we turned it off.

Nevertheless, as I’ve become an old guy, I’m in my eighties, I’ve begun to use more and more obscenities. The one I use most frequently is MFSOB; I don’t use the actual words. Hint: the M is for “Mother” and I’m sure the reader can figure out the rest. Also, I don’t say this or any other curse out loud; I say it to myself. I guess you could say I’m a secret swearer.

Let’s take a typical day. I wake up and get out of bed. I have a sharp pain in my right knee. MFSOB. I hobble to the bathroom. I look at myself in the mirror and I could say “MFSOB” but I don’t. I’ve become used to the way I look. I brush my teeth and the toothbrush suddenly jumps out of my hands and clatters behind the toilet. MFSOB. This time I nearly say it out loud.

Breakfast. My wife Sally has gotten up, made coffee and poured our orange juice. I pour cereal into a bowl and close the cereal box. The box top refuses to close. Those danged flaps keep coming open. It’s a conspiracy. MFSOB.

While eating my cereal I have my first sneeze of the day, then the second. MFSOB. After finishing my cereal I take my coffee out to the patio and start reading the morning paper. The paper itself is barely half its former size but the stories, especially those about government activities and the election, which is still a year and a half away, certainly merit cursing at. I have my morning coughing fit, which ruins my enjoyment of having a leisurely cup of coffee. MFSOB.

I get dressed. Used to be a simple operation which I didn’t have to think about. Now the sleeves are hard to get into, the buttons are hard to button and it’s a major exercise to get into my pants. MFSOB.

I sit down at my computer and look at the stock market figures. Most days, a definite MFSOB.

Before lunch I go out to get the mail. I have six pieces, four of them asking for donations and two bills. MFSOB.

I make a sandwich for lunch. While eating I sneeze again and then my nose starts to run. This ruins any enjoyment I might have of eating my lunch. MFSOB.

I spend the afternoon doing various things, reading, listening to music, taking a nap. At least three times during the afternoon I drop something or something drops to the floor and I have to laboriously bend down to retrieve it. MFSOB.

Dinner. Sally and I are quietly eating. The phone rings. It’s dinner time so I suspect it’s a nuisance call. I pick up the phone and say Hello and a voice says Hello, and then my first name. I ask who this is and the voice says it’s some survey or some organization wanting something. I’m tempted to say that since you called my by my first name we must be buddies and when can Sally and I come over for dinner. I don’t say this. I say, Sorry and hang up. MFSOB.

After dinner we watch television. We’re interrupted twice by nuisance calls, both by computers so I don’t get the satisfaction of hanging up on a person. MFSOB.

Time for bed. Another day over. Why have I become a secret swearer? I guess it’s because I’m mad. I’m mad at getting old. I’m mad at all the infirmities that come with being old. I’m mad at not being able to do all those things I used to be able to do. I suppose swearing makes me feel better, a little better. I wonder if when the time comes my final words, maybe even said out loud, will be MFSOB.



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