The Family Lexicon

“Unless you know the code, it has no meaning.”
― John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

Last week’s post, and my family coming into town this week, got me thinking about some of the other quirks, inside jokes, and private definitions that make up my clan’s collective unconscious.

My mother has battled depression (tooth and nail) for most of her life.  It’s a nasty, insidious enemy that takes over in a big way, but thanks to improved treatments, it’s much more manageable than it was twenty years ago.  Now and then, in times of great stress or just because chemical levels get a bit off, things get harder for her.  The way the sibs, Dad, and I communicate this to one another by saying, “We’re in a dip.”  It’s code that means help out a bit more, give the benefit of the doubt, and love a little harder for the next few weeks.

Most of the time, we are model children in public (seriously, we’re the kind you brag about at dinner parties), but it would be a lie to say that we’re completely civilized.  In private we tend towards the ridiculous..  We have two dinnertime rules 1) don’t wait for the hostess to start eating, unless it’s a formal dinner or holiday, and 2) “No bayonetting at the table.”   I actually have no idea how this entered the lexicon, but I am willing to be money that some sibling was poking another with a stick at the time.  Our napkins may be on our laps, and we may know exactly what forks to use for fish, desert, and salads, but this veneer of gentility hides inner savagery.

Speaking of.  Whenever the kids act out one or both parents will threaten to “subject us to civilization!”

Speaking of further.  J. and I both like the computer game “Civilization,” probably because of innate Napoleonic tendencies towards global domination.  For those not in the know, it’s a nerd’s dream: you choose which historical leader you want to be, and try to take over the world, build world wonders, negotiate treaties – fun!  I find, however, that I tend towards military attempts and so J. coined the phrase, “killing people,” to refer towards gaming.  As in, “Pass the laptop, I think I’ll kill people for an hour before bedtime.”  Note: as psychotic as this sounds it’s not an indicator of unstable mental health, although using the term in an airport might make people around you look at you in alarm and leave you to an embarrassed explanation.  Avoid this.

What inside jokes or phrases do you minions have amongst your nearest and dearest?  Any good stories behind them you care to share with the coterie?

8 thoughts on “The Family Lexicon”

  1. In Texas “Bless your heart” is code. I actually wrote about that today in one of my satirical posts, “Ms. Behavior Mafia”. I love in Texas how we can say what we want. Also, lets snap the pill in half is another one.

    1. Ah, yes, I have heard this of one. I’m guilty of using it in the office myself. “Some freshman called us because he got his bike stuck in a tree. Bless him.”

      Never heard of the second, do explain!

      1. It is in reference to a crazy pill. People think we are rambling when we say it. “Sit down, take a breath, and snap the pill in half. Can I get you some water?”

      2. lol please do. I am going to follow your blog. I would love it if you checked out mine too 🙂 I have guest writers so don’t judge me on that. 😉

  2. Our family joke is “That’s once”…it starts with a man who, after his donkey stumbles three times, shoots it. Then he loads up his wife. Welcome to our no-pressure family….:-)

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