Biff America: Swear-Slam author comes clean | SummitDaily.com

Biff America: Swear-Slam author comes clean

JEFFREY BERGERONbiff america
JEFFREY BERGERONbiff america
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At the age of 8, along with my buddy Joey, I co-authored the Swear Slam. The Slam was a phrase incorporating every swear-word known to man, (or at least known to 8-year-olds.) Joey and I could say the 14-word sentence at a speed that made it incoherent to adults. The delight we received from pronouncing the Slam in front of teachers and clergy was immense. To them it sounded like the silly mutterings of little boys; to us, we were pulling the wool over the eyes of authority. In keeping with a blood-oath, I cannot divulge the entire contents of the Slam, but I will note that the words nipple and booger were included. Now, granted, the aforementioned nouns are not technically curse-words, but our research was limited.I was reminded of the Slam a few Sundays ago while riding a bus at the 16th Street Mall in Denver.The vehicle was packed: families, older couples, sleepy mall employees, and a couple of attractive girls young enough to be my granddaughters. (But only if Id reproduced as a teenager.)While sitting in close proximity to Midwest, church-going, Barbara Bush look-alikes, the two young ladies were discussing the day, and night before. They spiced-up their dialogue with colorful adjectives and observations describing events and characters. Making no effort to be discreet, they issued verbal atrocities and descriptive dissertations of bodily functions, sexual proclivities and flagrant self abuse. The crowd reacted two distinct ways: mildly amused, and grossly appalled. At first, I was among the former. It was almost cute seeing these pint-sized pixies, swearing like soldiers. But before long I began to feel pain for the parents. In between vulgarities I leaned over and whispered: Maybe you two ladies should tone it down. In all honesty, it doesnt bother me but youre causing the tourists ears to bleed. The littlest one looked at me in disgust and said in a voice loud enough for many to hear Hey Grandpa, mind your own business! And while youre at it, kiss my —.The bus got as quiet as a tofu stand at a gun show. A witty retort was called for. Since I could not come up with one, I responded: Thats a tempting offer, but youll need to point out the difference between your butt and your mouth since they both make disgusting sounds. (Im so glad I took the high road.)Generally, Im comfortable with the use of four-letter words. I grew up in a mans world, played violent sports and worked as a longshoreman. Cursing was a rite of passage into a masculine realm where little was taboo. But I always knew it wasnt acceptable in mixed company. I remember spending my days unloading coffee bags from ships, then heading to my grandmothers house for dinner. If I used the same language in the evening as I did in the day, I might have killed the old girl.I still know my way around vulgarity. There is some dialogue between my friends and myself that would certainly qualify as obscene. I also hold that there are jokes and situations where profanity is sometimes required to get your point or punch line across.Personally, I cant think of any particular words I would find offensive stupid maybe, but not offensive. And I know this might sound hypocritical coming from the author of the Swear Slam, but young people need to realize that vulgarity is like pot smoke: pleasant to some, appalling to others. Im afraid cursing has attained a perceived status of mass acceptance in the youth culture. It is almost as they have taken something that was meant as a mutual abandonment between those like-minded and turned it into a product of mass consumption. Maybe theyve been numbed by the wealth of profanity in lyrics, on the Web, and in the media. When I was co-writing the Slam, I was aware the bad words were something wild, forbidden and offensive, which was why I liked them. Curses were an emphatic exclamation, used to make a point or to express anger. They were reserved for their shock effect, and mostly around peers. Some could contend that profanities are only words words we should be free to use in public. I would agree in part. I dont think there is any good reason why Middle America is offended by some words and not by their synonyms, but that is the case. And since there are many fine substitutes for $%@ and !@#*&, lets keep them available to use on the bus, and save the Swear-Slam for special occasions.Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com. Biffs book Steep, Deep and Dyslexic is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com.

While sitting in close proximity to Midwestern, church-going, Lawrence-Whelk-types, the two young ladies gave a high-decibel-discourse on verbal atrocities and descriptive bodily functions. They were discussing the day – and night – before, spicing their dialogue with many colorful adjectives. The crowd reacted two distinct ways: mildly amused or grossly appalled. At first I was among the former. It was almost cute seeing these darling, though well-pierced, ladies swearing like soldiers. But before long, I began to feel sorry for the mothers, who tried in vain, to cover their children’s ears. In between vulgarities I leaned over and whispered, “Maybe you two ladies should keep it down, your scaring the tourists.” The littlest one looked at me in disgust and said in a voice loud enough for the bus to hear “Why don’t you – my – you -. The bus got as quiet as a tofu stand at a gun show, all eyes were now on me. I needed a quick comeback. I responded, “Sorry I can’t, I just flossed my teeth.”

“Cursing is the self-expression of the ignorant.” Was an expression my mum would use when overhearing even the mildest expletive? My old man would be holding a crushed thumb from an errant hammer swing and after uttering the first noun that came to mind, he would be reproached. Hearing my mum scold my father was always a treat for me. When that would happen, I’d issue the “Blitz” and crack myself up. I’m comfortable with the use of four-letter words. I grew up in a man’s world, played violent sports, and worked as a long-shoreman. Cursing was a right of passage into a masculine realm where little was taboo. But that said, I always knew it wasn’t acceptable in mixed company. I remember spending my days unloading coffee bags from ships, then heading to my grandmother’s house for dinner. If I used the same language in the evening as I did in the day, I might have killed the old girl. Swearing was like dirty jokes; only shared with those like-minded. I still know my way around verbal vulgarity. There is some dialogue between my friends and myself that would qualify as obscene. I also hold that there are jokes and situations where profanity is sometimes required to get your point or punch line across. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone saying any words to me that I would find offensive. Stupid maybe, but not offensive. And I know this might sound hypercritical coming from the author of the “Blitz,” but young people these days need to realize that vulgarity is like cigar smoke, pleasant to some, appalling to others. I think cursing has attained a perceived status of mass acceptance in the youth culture; I find that disheartening. It is almost as they have taken something that was meant as a mutual abandonment between those so inclined, and turned it into a product of mass consumption.

Maybe the younger generation has been anesthetized by the wealth of profanity in the media. They might be under the misconception that cursing is how America communicates. When I was co-writing the “Blitz,” I was aware the bad words were something wild, forbidden, offensive to many, and that’s why I liked them. In my generation curses were an emphatic exclamation, used to make a point, or to express anger. They were reserved for their shock affect, and mostly around peers. Even now I still feel more comfortable around those with whom I can speak freely. Some could contend that profanity “are only words,” words we should be free to use in public. I would agree in part. I don’t think there is any good reason why Middle America is offended by some words and not by their synonyms, but that is the case. And since there are many fine substitutes for profanity let’s keep them available to use on the bus, and save the “Blitz” for special occasions.Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.


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