I hate cilantro. Whenever I eat Mexican food, I always have to say, “No cilantro, por favor.” To me it tastes like soap. (I just mistyped that sopa, which means soup. Ha! ) And that soapy taste in my mouth flashes me back to getting my mouth washed out with soap as a kid, for “bad” language. Yes, not just the nuns were old school, so was Mom.

I have never agreed with the old saw about profanity being an easy way out for people with no vocabulary. Let me just say here, that using some off-color language now and then is one of the great privileges of being an adult, if you’re good at it. (Another one is saying NO!) When I first started teaching, I really had to watch myself. That’s when I started saying “shtuff” for stuff. It kept me from saying…well, you know. And when I string it out, saying it slowly, I still see a lot of them do double takes.

Aside: And every year, when I use it in writing in sentences on the board, they always want to call me for a mistake. No dice. “I wasn’t trying to spell stuff, I was spelling the word shtuff. Don’t you know English teachers get a license to make up words? Sort of like how the fuzz get to speed when they want. I get to make up words, and they’re legit by definition.”

Anyway I do occasionally bust one or two things out for “dramatic effect.” I do give them the “if you don’t get out of this school knowing how to read for understanding and write clearly, high school will be four years of hell” speech. It’s the same one I give the parents except I add, “and not just for your student.” I don’t think I would consider that cursing.

Also, every now and then I tell them that I’m done being “nice” and lenient, and I’m going to have to get more hardass on them.  (Is that bad? Discuss.)  I always follow it with something like, “did I just say that?” or “it’s just a stubborn donkey.” Seventh graders love being in on something “outlaw” like that, and it’s another piece of my plan to hook them on the class. And I only say it  once.

This year someone took offense at those two terms. First time in 16+ years.

I won’t be talking like that any more.

Serena Williams is a Jehovah’s Witness, and unleashed a fine torrent of cursing on Saturday, that cost her 10 grand. Hers included the Lord’s name in vain stylie, as well as the usual four-letter word variety.

I can’t afford 10 grand.

My mouth tastes like cilantro.