Some years ago, while preparing an asleep patient for major bowel surgery, I blurted out “For fox sake!” This was triggered by some hassle with the equipment I was using.
(I have a whole arsenal of euphemistic exclamations with which I avoid blasphemous or profane speech: Oh sugar! Cheese and crackers! FFS! etc.)
My surgeon colleague, a big burly and jolly Muslim from Yemen took the time to ask me why I was imploring the blessing of a fox. He genuinely wanted to know.
Speaking straight off the top of my heart, this was my reply:
Once upon a time, when this part of the world was called Christendom it was common to upbraid a falling fellow with the words “For Christ’s sake!”.
Sadly, in this post-Christian society the name of Christ has become taboo, it makes people uneasy, and so people use a vulgarity like “f**k” instead when they emote. I cannot abide with vulgarity so I use the word “fox” in its place.
Does that answer your question?
Everyone in the operating room had listened to this exchange and were moved by it. There was a short silence and then my Muslim friend smiled and nodded with understanding. He clapped me on the shoulder and laughed. “I never expected such an elegant answer”, he said.
In my dwindling professional capacity, I have many letters after my name. I am thinking of adding “FFS” to them as I increasingly utter those words while I battle to maintain my sanity working in the UK’s Notional Health Service.
-Dr B. Burrito BA BM BCh FRCA FFS