(Edit: Any American English (or dialectically non-specific) alternative for "bloody hell!" Or "blimey!"?)
I'm looking for a short exclamation that implies that the character has been "driven up the wall." It has to be short (preferably one word) because the protagonist, a chimp, mimics this oft used expression of his keeper; and should be a "word" instead of a "sound" because it is the first human word uttered by the protagonist (the chimp).
I don't really have much choice with the phrasing since it's a text I'm translating (from Korean). The writer is going for a rather poignantly funny effect. The word the keeper uses (really short expression in Korean (that means "this drives me nuts") is widely used by people and is not an expletive. The humor lies in that the very first word the chimp happens to speak is this rather pithy but expressive word.
The context is as follows:
You might think I am being too sensitive to what is merely a fictional account. I do not deny it. The chimpanzee Eugene is a being of my dreams after all. He is my dream in the literal sense of the word. Compared with his splendid, sublime soul, mine is but insignificant and pathetic. It was that way right from the first human word I uttered: “Nuts!” A word the keeper in charge of me would spit out at the drop of a hat. The keeper's eyes popped as he stared at me. Disbelief was clearly written on his face. I held his stare in silence, with my chin raised and the corners of my lips curled up in a faint smile. The keeper, who was boring into me with his eyes, turned ashen; it had sunk in. I had not simply mimicked his voice. Yes, I fully grasped the significance of the word I had uttered. This took place five years after I was captured by humans who shot me with a tranquilizer gun. I can picture that day in my mind’s eye like a dreamscape. It took only minutes for me to lose consciousness after the dart hit me, but it felt like a lifetime.
Two words I could think of were "Jesus!" and "Nuts!". I have ruled out "Jesus!" because of the religious connotations that I want to avoid. "Nuts!" also could be problematic because of the sexual connotation of the word. Any ideas?