top of page
  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

‘Fess Up – What #$%&!! Word Slips Out When You’re Frustrated?

If you join me here regularly, you know I read and respond to every comment you leave. Often, it’s your personal stories that determine what we’ll talk about in this space. We’ve tackled some tough subjects in recent weeks: Difficult relationships, prayers that go unanswered, declining church attendance.

Are you ready for something a little lighter?

Well, friends, start exercising those five fingers of yours because this pastor’s- wife-turned-writer needs your input. I publish in the faith-based market, and my vocabulary is sorely, surely lacking in one critical area.

Cuss words.

Now I’m not talkin’ about expletives (deleted or not), profanity or obscenities. I’ve been startled at enough creative expressions scribbled in public restrooms to get an education in that regard.

As for my upbringing, my mother forbade us to use the words golly, gee, or gosh. “Darn” - a mild substitute for that once-controversial word that Rhett famously used to Scarlett - wasn't acceptable in our household either.

I also know what the scriptures have to say about coarse talk. What I’m looking for is useful epithets that wouldn’t offend my great-aunt Myrtle. Or you.

So spill, friends!

What words do you use when you are exasperated, frustrated, or infuriated?

What colorful but clean expressions do you employ when you’re angry or apoplectic, steamed up or teed off?

I know many of y’all are Sunday School graduates with the perfect attendance pins to prove it, so what execrations or imprecations come readily to your lips when you’re just plumb MAD?!

True story.

A few weeks back, a strange scent began to emanate from our front lawn close to my little She Shed. Following my nose, I discovered liquid seeping out from one section of our otherwise pristine lawn. As the sun warmed the earth, a malodor both fetid and foul wafted over Peace Ridge.

Alarmed, we called the plumber.

“We’ve got a problem, and we need someone to check our septic tank before the waterways are impacted! How soon can you get here?”

When the technician, Jerry, arrived, he inquired as to the location of said tank.

I stared at him stupidly and shook my head. No clue. The tank was pumped just before we moved in.

And thus began the Great Septic Tank Search, with my new BFF Jerry and I wandering the property while inserting a long probe into the lawn as if we were searching for the final resting place of a loved one.

We checked the backyard.

We ran into the house and traced the discharge pipes.

We tramped over the lower lawn, me knowing the meter was running while Jerry cheerfully reassured me that there was not a tank in Haywood County that had eluded him yet. (“We’ll find that stinkin’ sucker!”)

We called the county environmental agency, only to discover they didn’t start keeping records of septic systems until 1978. (This is southern Appalachia, after all, where indoor privies are a relatively new home improvement.)

Completely exasperated, I put my hands on my hips and blew out a breath. “Shoot!”

Jerry pushed back his cap and wiped his brow.

“Well, ma’am,” he grinned, “in my line of work we’ve gotta another name for it.”

(And the moral of this sorry tale is that yes indeedy, sometimes certain four-letter words are appropriate.)

While driving through Tennessee last month, I heard a talk show host respond to callers’ stories with dadgummit or tarnation. If I use those colloquialisms, I sound like Jed Clampitt on the Beverly Hillbillies.

My husband suggested “kerfubble” or his brother’s juvenile favorite, “Judah Buddah.”

My literary-minded daughter offered imprecations from Shakespeare: "Thou bawdy, motley-minded rudesby!" "Thou brazen, raw-boned canker-blossom!" “Thou art a hideous, eye-offending, hedge-pig!" Unfortunately, these make me sound pretentious when all I am is irritated.

So ‘fess up, friends, and help me out here.

What are some colorful words you employ when you are madder than a wet hen?

Life can be exasperating, and sometimes you just need a clean cuss word or two in your verbal arsenal for the occasion.

I’ll share your suggestions next week!

- Maggie Wallem Rowe

Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, speaker, and dramatist who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. She is the author of This Life We Share: 52 Reflections on Journeying Well with God and Others, and her new book Life is Sweet, Y'all: Wit and Wisdom with a Side of Sass.

Photo courtesy of Maureen Miller, Selah Farm



bottom of page