Goldfish chorus!
I got a lot of mail this week in response to a column I wrote recently about alternatives to cuss words. “My lord and Taylor, I just loved it!” one woman wrote. Her favorite exclamation that sounds filthy but ain’t is “Goldfish chorus!” I like it. It’s got the right balance of hard syllables and guttural turns. I’ll try it out in church to see if I can prompt any gasps of horror.

Mama mia!
Another letter writer insinuates that she can cuss in a foreign language, and included a long phrase in Italian — a phrase which I shan’t repeat here in case it’s really, REALLY dirty and I accidentally provoke some sort of international incident. Again.

All growed up
Another letter writer said of me that “age has mellowed Mark’s disposition and attitude,” an observation that sent me into a weeklong depression. Have I really mellowed that much? Have the years made me polite and well-behaved like any ordinary sap? I gotta go out and toilet paper a house or something just to get my childish mojo back. I wouldn’t want to inconvenience anyone, though, so I’ll just TP my own house.

I know you are, but what am I?
Maybe next week we’ll discuss a number of delicious, semi-clean yet perfectly useful pejoratives you can hurl at people who do you wrong or get under your skin. We’re talking about classics such as “ringmeat” and “bonehead” and “dingus” and “doofus” and “idjit” and “schnook” and “nincompoop” and “weenie” and . . . Well, I’ve got plenty of others, but they’re quickly creeping out of the semi-clean zone and into some real fun.

Wherefore art thou 
Or if you really want to get high brow, take a lesson from Shakespeare and put a little sophistication into your insults. Boss been on your back? Let him know he’s a “poisonous bunch-backed toad,” a “muddy conger,” a “moldy rogue” or, if things have gotten really bad, “a damned and luxurious mountain goat.” That’ll fix him.

Wait a minute…
How’d we get on this topic again?

The wet stuff
The day of the big thunderstorm, I got stuck between cloud bursts and ended up riding my motorcycle in a downpour. Got soaked, which is great fun at first. Every time I tried to change into some dry duds, though, another big call would come over the scanner and I’d have to rush back out again, squishing everywhere I went. This happened like six times in a row and by the time things quieted, hours later, I was pretty well pruned and mushrooms were growing in my socks. True story.

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