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Family Catch Phrases - Mo's Journal
January 4th, 2008
07:09 am

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Family Catch Phrases
This came up tangentially in comments to another post.

I think all families have certain catch phrases and inside jokes that make sense only to them. How they come up with them and the meaning they have for the people involved is infinitely interesting to me. Anyone want to share? I'll go first. Here are a couple from my family of origin:


My mother, who was wonderful at all textile arts, tried a few times to teach me to knit but I just never got it. I attribute that to me being a klutz, but she always attributed it to me being left-handed and she just didn't know how to teach someone left-handed.

So one day she came home from the grocery store with one of those Family Circle or Women's Day magazines because it had in big letters on the cover "Learn to Knit, Including Illustrated Instructions for Left-Handers." We read the article, which indeed had illustrations, and couldn't find any reference to left-handed knitting. Then, on the third read, she spotted an asterisk at the beginning of it. At the bottom of the page it said, "For left-handers: reverse all references to right and left and hold illustrations upside down in front of a mirror." While knitting :-).

So anything that offered more than it delivered was called "left-handed knitting instructions" in our family.




At a family vacation to Washington, DC, we were at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. We were looking at the Hall of Minerals when my parents noticed that my sister Kayo, then five years old, was holding a small rock. This rock looked suspiciously like one of the very large rocks on display. Our parents took her off into the corner and grilled her:

"Where did you get the rock?"
"I found it."
"Where did you really get it?"
"I found it. Really. It was just lying on the floor."

Well, they still had their doubts but what can you do? They figured it was best to just accept the story. Only then my brother Hart (two years older than Kayo) kept bugging her about her rock.

"Let me see your rock."
"No, it's mine."
"Come on, just let me hold it for a minute."
"No, it's mine."

This went on for a while until she got thoroughly exasperated and yelled at him in one of those loud child voices in the crowded hall: "Oh go chip your own!"

We left quickly. From that moment on whenever you caught someone in a lie in our family you said "Oh go chip your own."


And one from my current family:


Doran could not say "th" for a long time, replacing it either with an "h" or an "f" sound. So he said, "I hink" instead of "I think" but "I fought" instead of "I thought."

He went to a lovely day care/preschool in Battery Park City. He and I would travel together on an express bus from where we lived at the time to his school, and then I'd go to work from there. We left at 7:00 a.m. and he was often kind of tired and cranky. One day as we were getting on the bus he tripped on the stairs and started crying and yelling at the other passengers for "looking at me" falling. He was quite chagrined afterwards, and told this story to a friend of ours, saying "I was very upset and I said mean crying 'hings to all the people on the bus." So when one displaces one's anger or upset on perfect strangers, we call it saying mean crying 'hings to all the people on the bus. As in, "What a day I've had. I swear, I felt like saying mean crying 'hings to all the people on the bus all day."

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From:rpics
Date:January 4th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
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Mean crying 'hings is in our family too! Not too much of coincidence since we got it from Doran. He was relating the story during a Thanksgiving in Vermon to my sister and her boyfriend. They were enchanted by such a sophisticated story from a two year old, that is is one of our family phrases, too.
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From:mofic
Date:January 4th, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)
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Well, you're practically family :-).
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From:mamajoan
Date:January 4th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
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LOL. I love your stories.

I can only think of one such in my family, which stems from an episode of "The Simpsons." As background, the character Sideshow Bob (a sidekick of another character) has a vendetta against the character Bart, and tries repeatedly to harm Bart, and ends up getting sent to prison. In one episode we see Sideshow Bob in prison, writing death-threat letters to Bart, using his own blood as ink. After a while of this, he passes out from the blood loss, and his cellmate says, "Geez, use a pen, Sideshow Bob."

My brother, whose name is also Bart, started saying this all the time, and it confused the heck out of my mom, who didn't watch the show or know the characters. So she started saying it too, except she thought it was "Satchel Bob," and my brother would get soooo irritated when she said it wrong. (did I mention that we were teenagers at the time ;) ) Eventually he managed to straighten her out. So "Use a pen, Sideshow Bob" in our family means "chill out, calm down, take it easy."
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From:mofic
Date:January 4th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
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LOL! I love that one.

Oh another one (in my current family, not FOO). If someone overlooks an easy answer to something, you say "It works better when it's plugged in."
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From:kuriadalmatia
Date:January 4th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
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The one that J and I use is "William Regal" or for more extreme situations, "William Regal, Blackpool England."

William Regal is a professional wrestler originally from Blackpool, England and about seven years ago, had a prominent storyline on WWE wrestling shows. J's best friend, Pat, used to order the monthly wrestling Pay-Per-Views and invite everyone over. Whenever Regal's character would appear onscreen for the first time of the night, Pat would launch into the story about where Regal was from and that he was a bare-handed boxes prior to the WWE. Every. Single. Time. J and I picked up on this habit about three events in and it became our private joke.

So, whenever we launch into a story we've told several times before or complain about something (or each other) yet again, one of us will interrupt with "William Regal". If I'm saying something I know he's heard me say before, I'll say, "Yes yes, I know. William Regal but..." and continue on. An anecdote or argument we keep coming back to continually merits the full "William Regal, Blackpool England" because we've beat the subject to death.
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From:mofic
Date:January 5th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
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LOL! I know my ex and I had a bunch of that kind of thing, but I can't think of any offhand.
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From:mofic
Date:January 5th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)
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Oh I thought of one! When she was overwhelmed with the kids, she used to say "I'm going out for a pack of cigarettes." Neither of us smoke - it was a reference to men who leave their wives and kids by "going out for a pack of cigarettes" and never coming back. So it was a way of saying "I've had it!" without the kids knowing. I'd always say "I'll miss you." It stopped when Doran was old enough to ask, "But why do you say that? You don't smoke."
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From:momma_geek
Date:January 5th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
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Great stories! I'll share one.

One day when I was in high school, my mom brought home groceries and I was helping put them away. As I put the dog food cans in the cabinet, she came over and told me I was doing it wrong. Doing it wrong? How could I be doing it wrong? She said that she wanted to dogs' meals to be varied, so they had to go in the cabinet in the order beef-liver-chicken-beef-liver-chicken. I asked what was so bad about beef-liver-beef-chicken-chicken-liver? No, it had to be beef-liver-chicken-beer-liver-chicken. I told her she was crazy and we didn't talk for a week.

To this day, my sister, both of our husbands, and I use "beef-liver-chicken" to mean that someone is being too anal retentive.
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From:mofic
Date:January 5th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
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I love that story!

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