We live in an age in which obscenities and vulgar expressions have become so common in the media that they have lost their ability to shock or even surprise. The tendency to blurt out four-letter words in public over everything from a sip of hot coffee to a pen that refuses to write has turned billingsgate into banality.
Granted, the temper of the times once necessitated the use of “Ods bodkins!,” “Gadzooks!,” and “Dagnabit!” instead of the intended profanity. Yet many other ejaculations fit the character and became his or her signature: “Leaping lizards!” (Orphan Annie); “Sufferin’ succotash!” (Sylvester); “Heavenly days!” (Molly McGee); “My clavicle!” (Fibber McGee); “Holy mackerel!” (George Kingfish Stevens); “Yer durn tootin’!” (Gabby Hayes); “Saints preserve us!” (Mike Clancy); “Sufferin’ snakes!” (Mike Axford); “What a revoltin’ development this is!” (Chester A. Riley); “Well, I’ll be a dirty bird!” (George Gobel); and “Well doggies!” (Jed Clampett).
Comic books along with TV programs and radio shows come fully equipped with a galaxy of fitting expressions from A (“Abracadabra!”) to Z (“Zowie!”) with old standbys such as “By Cracky!,” “Heavens to Betsy!,” “I-Yi-Yi!,” and “Yikes!” just waiting to jump out of the mouths of our favorite characters.
“Good honest night!” is the exclamation I employ most frequently, even if the time is midday. The cause of my irritation might be a driver creeping along in front of me or a sudden storm that catches me without an umbrella. “What in the world!” is my all-inclusive expression of frustration that seems to cover most situations as long as I remain on this planet. At times, though, I ask myself if I couldn’t suit my words more appropriately to the situation. What I should have said when first pelted by raindrops was “Thunderation!” or “Jupiter Pluvius!” Rather than mutter to myself on the days I am following a tortoise behind the wheel, I would probably get better results if I shouted out the window “Release the brake!”
In the interest of enlivening the language I humbly submit some additional apposite exclamations.
Sailor: “Scrape my barnacles!”
Archaelogist: “Crumbing crypts!”
Poker player: “Feed the kitty!”
Cook: “You blankety blancmange!”
Checkout clerk: “Well, bar my code!”
Sturgeon fisherman: “Roe! Roe! Roe!”
Barber: “If that don’t dull my clippers!”
Botanist: “Pistils and stamens!”
Background singer: “Shooby Dooby Doo Bop!”
Astronomer: “My stars!”
Hollywood agent: “One-tenth of my stars!”
Taxi driver: “I can’t hack this!”
Judge: “Griping gavels!”
Furniture Maker: “Mortise my tenon!”
Kleptomaniac: “Take that!”
Rainmaker: “Buy thunder!”
Pirate: “Buy plunder!”
Ragpicker: “Rend asunder!”
Landlord: “Rent a hundred!”
Barefooted kicker: “Krakatoa!”
Precious metals speculator: “High Yield, Silver!”
What should I say to the masked man who just rode in on a white horse and made threats about copyright that made my blood clot? I’ve got it. “Hemo gobby!”