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January 11, 2008

Jeepers cripes

Posted in: General

Once, long ago, in a land far, far away from where I live today, I waited with one or more of my siblings in the family sedan while one or more of our parents ran into one or more of the nearby shops to enact one or more unknown transactions.

The memory is a bit fuzzy.

But nearby, there was a GNC store — one of those odd places selling bottle after bottle plastered with statements which have not been evaluated by the FDA, containing vitamin supplements, herbal remedies, essential minerals and other products not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, but nonetheless startlingly expensive.

And for some reason, we started trying to come up with what the letters “G.N.C.” might represent, and somehow one of us dug into our Catholic upbringing and came up with “Jesus, Mary & Joseph”. Doesn’t work, you say? Well, try it “Geezus, Nary & Chofus”. Stir in a thick Irish brogue, rasp the voice up a bit, and belt it out with unflappable authority and a strong note of outrage, and you’ve got a truly magnificent exclamation.

Why is that so entertaining to say that I still laugh at it, almost 2 decades later? I have no idea, but there’s another one I stumbled across the other day. This probably won’t make any sense unless you spent a lot of time in church as a child, but if so, try it:

Say all the responses, snippets of prayers, etc. that you remember, with equal seriousness, but substitute an old-fashioned euphemism wherever possible. The main ones:

  • Jeepers instead of Jesus
  • Cripes instead of Christ
  • Lawks instead of Lord
  • Gosh instead of God

Some examples from the Roman Catholic mass:

“Cripes have mercy. Lawks have mercy. Cripes have mercy.”
“…through Jeepers Cripes our Lawks. Amen.”
“We believe in one Lawks, Jeepers Cripes, the only Son of Gosh”
“Gosh from Gosh, Light from Light, true Gosh from true Gosh,”
“Blessed are you, Lawks, Gosh of all creation.”
“Cripes has died, Cripes is risen, Cripes will come again.”
“Let us give thanks to the Lawks, our Gosh.” “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.”

I think I personally find this tickles my brain because it digs up a lot of strong memories that are a bit uncomfortable to revisit (I still remember how disquieting it was when I suddenly started listening to what I was saying when I was 12 or so) but giving them a firm and well-deserved twist of the nonsensical.

I imagine elderly ladies with very strong floral perfume and prim, wrinkled mouths carefully following along with the responses in their missal, studiously substituting the euphemisms to avoid any possible use of the Lawks’ name in vain.


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