Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinions, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.
Do you cuss?
Do you swear?
A little? A lot?
This year there have been several news stories and studies proclaiming swearing is good for you.
Wait a minute. Weren’t we instructed as children that swearing is low-class, vulgar, socially unacceptable language you don’t use in polite conversation?
Absolutely. But swearing, according to so-called “experts” carries benefits for the potty-mouth.
A study co-authored by Richard Stephens, a senior lecturer in psychology at Keele University, found that swearing can increase your ability to withstand pain.
Stephens asked subjects to come up with a list of words, including swear words that they might use if they hit their thumb with a hammer. Then they were asked to come up with a list of neutral words to describe a chair. He then asked them to submerge a hand in ice water for as long as they could, while repeating a word that could either be a swear word or a neutral word.
The subjects who kept repeating a swear word kept their hand in the ice water almost 50 percent longer than those who sued neutral words. They also felt the pain wasn’t as intense, thus, a study conclusion was that swearing reduces sensitivity to pain.
Stephens also conducted another study that found that swearing during bicycle and hand-grip exercises improved performance.
Timothy Jay, an emeritus professor at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts says, “Cursing is coping, or venting, and it helps us deal with stress.” Jay asserts curse words help communicate emotions.
They also demonstrate a strong vocabulary. A study by Jay discovered that people who could generate many letter words and animal names could also spew the most swear words.
Yet another study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science concluded “profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level.”
I wonder what researchers would say about this experience.
Recently our family was out to dinner at a very nice restaurant. The place was packed and was just a tad noisy. Still I couldn’t believe my trained ears.
Seated two tables away to my right were two middle-aged couples. I’m assuming they were married folks.
The husbands and wives were seated, not across from one another, but next to each other.
Out of nowhere it came. I saw it. I heard it.
Husband to wife: “Your mother thinks she’s f***ing right all the time.”
The missus shrugged him off, muttered a few inaudible words, and kept eating.
If I heard it, other diners had to as well (my wife and daughter did not).
No other bombs were dropped. The lone incident transpired and was done in a mega-second.
The quick act of swearing wasn’t done to alleviate pain, show off one’s vocabulary, or enhance some kind of performance.
It was done to condemn and it was done in a very public setting.
London Sunday Times journalist Oliver Thring wrote in 2011:
Only a few selfish fools don’t recognise that a restaurant, whatever the semi-private jokes and gropes of its tables, is a collective and communal space. It relies on the acceptance and embracing of universal good manners and a decent readiness to consider the wellbeing of one’s fellow man and woman.
There’s a school of thought that swearing is unnecessary and should be censored. That’s true in most cases, definitely that night in the restaurant.