I once heard somewhere* that every family has its own secret language. This got me to thinking because in my family, well, it’s true. We are full of special sayings that are well outside the norm, and we all use them everyday, all day** in our conversations with one another.
We have been like this for as long as I can remember. In fact, when I first heard that about the secret language, it caused me to remark, “Yeah, well, my family’s is a little better developed than most.”
Bill’s family does not seem to have much of a secret language. They speak to each other in their usual English, and they don’t use many cutesy sayings or euphemisms or cliches. This has been convenient for me because I haven’t felt bad about teaching Bill our family language and assisting him in*** adopt some of it as his own.
Some of you are probably thinking, “What the heck is she talking about?” Let me explain. Okay, wait, I just tried to explain. Let me give you some examples.
When my sister or I (or Bill, for that matter) leave the house to drive somewhere in our cars, my mom says to us, “Driving carefully.” Our required response? “Carefully driving!”
When our lips are dry or chapped, we use lip “blam” on them.
My great-grandfather used to “tag” us when we parted company with him. My mom, sister, grandmother, and I continue that to this day, many years after he passed away. When we were younger, we used to use this phrase with the tag: “Last tag; you’re it; I quit.” Now, a simple, “You’re it,” will do.
We name our cars (well, my sister doesn’t do that anymore), and we use their names in conversation. My car’s name is Barney. My mom drives Nelly Bell, and my dad drives Tweety.
When I was in college, I would get e-mail with titles like, “Alerc, alerc, alerc,” and “Calling all cars, calling all cars!” This usually meant that my mom couldn’t find something she had been looking for or that something good was on TV that night, and she wanted to let me know so I could watch it.
We spent one entire summer trip to Colorado, visiting our friends the Lairs, using the kind of speech that could be found on the Saturday Night Live skits that were about “Da Bearsssss.” Imagine how well that worked out with “Da Lairsssss.” We also used this saying quite often: “Coloradoooooo, livin’ the good life, spendin’ the big bucks.” Even now, just thinking about that throws me right back there.
There are any more examples of special sayings we use in our family that make up our family’s (less) secret language. However, this is just enough of a sampling that y’all won’t send the men in the white coats to take me away.
Suffice to say that this is all part of what keeps us close and keeps us talking. And if no one else can understand us? Oh, well; we weren’t talking to them, anyway!
*not at all sure where, but “some”where
**except for my dad, who picks and chooses which ones he’s willing to use
***forcing him to