Illustration by Mike Lee

WHEN I WAS SMALL AND LET LOOSE with a flippant fuck or screw — fuck the Buckeyes, screw the Wolverines and so on — my mom would advise me that, unless I was fantastically upset, using these words in such a way was not in my best interest. She'd suggest lighter fare — heck, darn, fiddlesticks — with which to badmouth life's distant disappointments. If I overused the strong words, she cautioned, they'd lose their strength, eventually leaving me verbally constipated with no hope of release.

I appreciated Mom's advice in that it left a considerably better aftertaste than the proverbial bar of soap, and lasted a lot longer. Plus, Mom proved the value of her preachings by putting them into practice herself. Damn it to hell! was her favored outbound incantation to treat primary exasperations of the heck/

darn/fiddlesticks variety. It didn't happen often — usually she was too depressed to be angry, or too busy to be depressed. But on a tough day, when just the improper moonlight struck Mom's world at just the improper angle, Damn it to hell! was her outburst of choice.

For special occasions, she used a real showstopper in the field of parent-child relations: Go screw yourself!

“But I mowed the lawn last time.”

Go screw yourself!

Special occasions only. Most of the time, my brother and I could depend on good ol' Damn it to hell! for our demi-taboo linguistic thrills; and thrilled we'd be: In the wake of an unremarkable Damn it to hell!, Danny (“Dammy,” on such occasions) and I would often rush to our room (with or without encouragement) and surrender to the delight of jumping.

Up and down on our beds, ruining mattresses, mimicking Mom.

Damn it to hell!

Damn it to hell!

Each jump began and ended — coiled and recoiled — with a relatively quiet damn it to, followed by heroic skyward bursts of hell! as we attempted contact with the ceiling. Our beds were on opposite sides of the room, and, without formal intention, we'd end up more or less synchronized, alternating like a two-stroke engine. We resembled, as much as two brothers could, a bit of Fleischer animation — a missing sequence from Bimbo's Initiation.

This motor ran for no more than 10 minutes before running out of fuel or transmogrifying into a standard-size pillow fight. If the pillow fight got out of hand — loud — Mom would appear at the door, say “Damn it to hell!,” close the door, and the cycle would begin again.

(A couple of times we tried this with Go screw yourself!, but it just wasn't the same.)


Notice that the number of schoolyard massacres actually declined dramatically following the release of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. That's because the two things have nothing to do with each other. Unless you're an organization such as the ChildCare Action Project, which insists that “South Park is an incredibly dangerous movie for those who do not understand or are developing an understanding of the Gospel — INCREDIBLY dangerous.” In the name of Jesus, Lord, Master, Savior and God, and as part of his ChildCare Action Project's Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP), superior being Thomas A. Carder moved trigger finger onto keyboard long enough to create his Entertainment Media Analysis Report for South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut ( Carder's thermometer-style chart of WISDOM (W = Wanton Violence/Crime; I = Impudence/Hate; S = Sex/Homosexuality; D = Drugs/Alcohol; O = Offense to God; M = Murder/Suicide) cites South Park's various offenses against . . . well, certainly against Thomas A. Carder. Somehow — and I don't know how someone could do this without sitting through the movie at least half a dozen times (I only went twice) — Carder and his client God counted the number of occurrences of various naughty things. For example, under Impudence/Hate, they cite “131 uses of the most foul of the foul words by children,” but only “119 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary by children.” Hm. I'll be darned. Other warnings include “'Let's ([homo]sexual intercourse)' at least four times”; “igniting anal wind then being incinerated”; “Hussein waves his disembodied male member around”; and “a giant talking female private organ.” Blown up to billboard size, Carder's essay would've made a fine advertisement for the film; the distributors might well consider printing its URL on the video box. For the rest of us hell-bound idiots who don't know how to live properly, commemorative trailers for Bigger, Longer & Uncut are available in your choice of 2.8MB and 12.2MB QuickTime video clips from Mr. Hat's Hell Hole (, or /, respectively).

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