In one of the Star Trek movies (the second one, I think) Spock called them “colorful metaphors.” Nikki, my seven-year-old, calls them,”Ooooo…bad words.” Not just “bad words;” you have to add the “Ooooo” in for effect. My son Alexey can’t stop laughing long enough to call them anything.
I spent four years as a Citadel cadet and 12 years right after that as a cop. As I usually tell people that in those settings, if you weren’t using “colorful metaphors” about every third sentence, you just weren’t having a conversation. I mean, it rather loses something in translation when you try to get a confession from someone by threatening to throw his “patooty” in jail. To quote the great modern philosopher Weird Al Yankovic, it sounds just a bit too “White and Nerdy.”
So I suppose it’s no great surprise that at ages 10 and 7, my son and daughter have heard their fair share of the seven words you can’t say on radio. It does become a sad state of affairs, however, when you get to use one as a spelling lesson.
Picture this: The four of us are trying to pull out of a Toys R Us in a very traffic-dense shopping area. We’re packed in the Ford Windstar. Mommy is driving, and somebody cuts her off.
“Idiot!” she yells slapping her palm on the steering wheel.
“Well, at least you didn’t use the ‘S’ word,” comes the accusatory, less than angelic voice of my daughter from the back seat.
Realizing I’m about to get busted, I dive in full force. “Um…which word is that, Nikki?”
“You know…” She glares at me.
“Sandwich?” I ask.
“No,” she says, shaking her head and making her reply a two-syllable word.
“Stupid?” I say, venturing into deeper waters.
“No, Daddy. You know…’s-u-n-b-i-c-h!”
Ta-da! The winner of today’s spelling bee is…not Daddy.