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Thursday, February 7, 2008

How To
The Complete Idjit's Guide to Old-West Cussin'

David Jasper

Old-West Cussin'

As we saw in the last chapter, the trail is rough, and there will be times when it is appropriate to let loose a volley of cuss words such as goldangit, dadgummit, or goddammit.

To the uninformed, the differences between these words may seem minor, but misuses in front of a cowboy, muleskinner will make you seem dodgy and shiftless, or some other ne’er-do-well. You need to make sure each word is used correctly, or risk being perceived as a dreaded, “gosh-darned” greenhorn.

“Goldangit” has an air of frustration mixed with that impatience that lets interlopers and outsiders (defined as those not from around these parts) know you are one tough customer of hardy pioneer stock and not one to be trifled with.
Use if / when …

— You mistake your horse’s teeth for your dentures.
— Your gold claim is overrun with immigrants schooled in the martial arts.
— Railroad mishaps.
— Stage coach robberies.
— Swearing in front of shopkeeper McDougal’s prissy daughter.
— A Cartwright puts a spur in your weekly bath.
— First sign of smoke signals.

“Dadgummit?” Why, yes, friend. It is THE perfect ejaculation for minor irritations, major frustrations, affronts to your dignity, gunplay.
Use if / when …

— Skeeter and Monroe rustle your cattle.
— Gypsies curse your firstborn.
— A stranger dishonors your family by despoiling your kin, resulting in a shotgun wedding.
— Your shotgun misfires at your daughter’s shotgun wedding.
— Wanting, but not receiving, your druthers.
— Horsepucky.

The most potent of this family, use “goddammit” only with extreme caution and/or when taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Use if / when …

— You have just been shot just for snoring.
— Foreclosure.
— The corset-wearing mistress of your dreams turns out to be nothing but a two-bit whore.
— You think you’ve struck it rich only to learn it is pyrite, better known as fool’s gold.
— Your drunken horse throws a shoe while a posse hell-bent on stringing you up from a ponderosa gives chase.
— War drums/paint.
— Your Lord hath forsaken you.

Old-West Cussin'

* Special Usage note: Utterance of this word may lead to smiting.

David Jasper lives in Bend, Oregon, where an orca, burned by the real estate fizzle, will come seeking vengeance. A child named Willy shall save the townspeople. Meanwhile, Jasper writes for a daily newspaper. His extracurricular writing has appeared in or on Big Brother skateboard magazine, ber, McSweeney's, and Yankee Pot Roast.