Well, holy smokes, sufferin' succotash and pshaw.
Guess what they're doing with the Olympics now.
Are you ready for an "Oh my heck" collectors' pin?
It's the latest Oly marketing doodad, dreamed up by Spirit of the Games 2002.
Done in raised gold, the pin features a "cute character" on skis falling off a mountain, hollering Utah's well-known version of watered-down profanity, according to a Spirit press release.
The pin is designed, they say, to "razz how we speak," and celebrate Utahnics, the unique tongue-twisting that has echoed through the Wasatch over the years.
Call it the Official Oath of the 2002 Olympics.
I'd call it a good thing.
It's always healthy to poke fun at oneself "O wad some giver the giftie gie us, to see oursels as others see us," as Robert Burns put it.
As one not native to these parts, nor LDS, I have to say the quaint "Oh my heck" is by far the quintessential Beehive colloquialism, the phrase that takes you most aback upon arriving here.
It is the saying that puts Utah on the Local Loco Lingo Map. Like "faith and begorra" or "mama mia," once heard, you have little trouble confusing its origin with another location.
In taking a short-cut around the commandment not to take the Lord's name in vain, and Biblical injunctions against other vulgarities, "oh my heck" is entirely in keeping with inventive invectives that have evolved as mild-mannered stand-ins to full-bore assaults on sensibilities.
"Gadzooks" and "egad" are silly-sounding oaths, though both have sober-sided origins God's hooks (the nails in Jesus' hands) and oh God, respectively.
"Jeez," of course, finesses Jesus' name, as does the Beaver Cleaverism, "gee whiz."
Similar ecclesiastically oriented euphemisms include the much-treasured "blimey" (God blind me) by our friends across the pond; "zounds" (by God's wounds) of classical lore, or "ye gods and little fishes," favored by that paragon of politeness, W.C. Fields.
The entertainment world, in fact, has provided ample euphemistic fodder, none more fertilely than Saturday morning cartoons.
Was it not Daffy Duck who authored "sufferin' succotash," and Yosemite Sam (a personal favorite) who popularized the unsurpassed, "great horny toads?"
Speaking of greats and suffering, it was Perry White, the tormented fictional editor of the Daily Planet, who kept Clark and Lois and Jimmy in line with an occasional "great Caesar's ghost."
If not for comic-book titans, where would we be, oathwise, without Robin's immortal, "Holy (whatever), Batman."
It comes from a long line of wholly functional holies "mackerel, smokes, moley," to name three but none as satisfying as the Chris Farley-inspired, "Holy schniekies."
You don't even have to know what a schniekie is, nor how to spell it, to find it highly useful in an oh-my-heck sort of way.
That's not even to mention the important contributions of such etymological heavyweights as Gomer's, "Shazam and go-o-o-ll-ee" or Scoobie and Shaggy's "Jinkies."
Euphemisms, naturally, hardly provide the only colloquial pleasure.
When I was in tech school in the Air Force, I shared a bay with a guy from Birmingham, Ala., and another from Lynn, Mass. One was always asking if I wanted to go get a "cokola" and the other inquired if I desired a "tonic." Took weeks to teach them what they really wanted was a "pop."
Then there was an acquaintance of mine who went to his wife after a week of living in Snyder, Tex.
"Marie," he said, "do I look like there's anything wrong with me?"
"Because everyone I pass on the street keeps asking, 'You all rat?' "
Eventually, Bookie learned "you all right?" was a Texas way of saying howdy.
Now this new pin will prompt visitors on our streets to jump through Utah's lingual hoops, and, oh my heck, I hope that's all rat with them.