Justin Tadlock

Sometimes You Gotta Say, "What The F-Bomb"

Or, as Joel’s dad mentions, “Sometime’s you just gotta say, ‘What the heck.’”

Today I said it. Well, I said what Joel’s dad said. I just don’t think the F-bomb rolls off my countrified tongue as nice. “What the heck” is much more poetic, don’t you think?

Have to write a 10-page paper by Thursday at 12:30? What the heck. Do it all in one sitting. Get up in the morning and write the entire thing, finishing only a half hour before you have to turn it in. What the heck.

Maybe this isn’t exactly what we’d call Risky Business, but it’s a little dangerous with my grade hanging in the balance for the 19th Century British Novel. In my defense, I have literally not had the time to write it before this morning. That’s if we’re not counting the weekends. And, I don’t count the weekends. They’re off-limits to homework and things like that, unless I’m actually enjoying the project.

“‘What the f—’ gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.” Now, my future lies solely in that saying. I had the freedom of writing like a member of the academic elite on speed all morning. I’m not sure what kind of opportunity that might bring.

Let’s get back to this F-bomb thing. I think I’ve been so indoctrinated into the southern way of life, that I can’t just drop one without sounding a bit weird. Sure, country folk do say it, but many times it has that sound of being not part of the vernacular (at least where I’m from).

When I mentioned “what the heck” sounds a little more poetic, I’m sure you’re wondering how this is so. See, the word “heck” brings with it certain connotations particular to southern culture. The F-bomb is much more universal. Being a part of southern culture means being able to say “heck” or “ain’t” or “y’all.” It just rolls off the tongue. “Heck” has meaning. It has substance. It’s filled with years of bad language and people not learnin’ their readin’ and writin.’

The F-bomb has its own meaning, but not like the sound of hearing that southern drawl. The word “heck” means something more to me than the F-bomb ever could. It’s the sound of home, the essence of a place deeply rooted in my soul. And essentially, it brings me back to that place I grew up. Those dirt roads I bicycled down. Those games of dominoes on Sunday afternoon I intently watched. Granny’s cooking. Running barefoot through the woods. Building treehouses. Seeing Boo-Boo put a half a can of snuff in his mouth. Hearing the top of a Natural Light pop off. Washing ourselves with a water hose. Drinking from the same water hose…

Somehow, I’ve gotten a little off-track from my original topic for this post, and now I’ve forgotten what it was I was going to write about. If nothing else, remember, a single word can carry with it a world, or a lifetime, of meaning.

You might ask yourself how a word could have so much meaning. Come stay here a while and you’ll understand. What the heck.