In response to the posting about the f-word, several readers have sent me their own favorite cuss words. Some of them are delicious, and I’m sure serve the purpose of a good cuss-word, which is to blow off some steam without doing physical damage to oneself or anybody else. Or anything else. Most of the favorites had personal histories that made them meaningful to one person or to a family.
My own favorite has the same history, and reading about the origins of some other people’s most beloved epithets got me to thinking how mine began. It was when my children were small and we lived in a suburban neighborhood where each house had at least one child. A neighbor friend, Pat, came galloping to my house one day laughing her head off over something her little girl had said.
The child had asked Pat, “Mama, what’s a sha-tass?”
Pat said she wasn’t familiar with the word and asked where the little girl had heard it.
“Well,” said her innocent. “Brenda said her mama told her daddy that he was a big sha-tass.”
Our children are grown now, and I lost contact with Pat a long time ago. But I think of her every time I need to blow off steam. Nothing does it like “Oh, sha-tass!”