Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bjorklundosophy, volume I.

Every family has their fair share of inside jokes. My family is certainly no exception. Over the years, we’ve (“we” being my mom, dad, brother, sister, and me) amassed quite a collection of them, most of them stemming from cribbage (behind mocking each other, cribbage is our second most popular family activity). Though most inside jokes tend to become stale, ours only get better with age. If they stick around long enough, they’re promoted from inside jokes to catchphrases. We’ve accumulated some really good ones, so for this top ten Tuesday, I’d like to share the ten best Tim/Brenda/Calla/Darrah/Mitch catchphrases. I hope you’re ready for this.

We kicked their ass!
An ass-kicking in progress.
This phrase is used primarily for cribbage victories, and the pronouns must be modified accordingly. However, “ass” never becomes “asses,” no matter how many asses are kicked in whatever game we’re playing. It’s a collective ass, I guess. We use this expression anytime a game is won, but we’re especially enthusiastic if it’s a narrow victory. This particular phrase is all about the inflection, which is a bit hard to describe. Next time you see me, I’ll happily give you a demo – bonus points if it’s while we’re playing a game and I actually kick your ass. However, unless it’s Trivial Pursuit we’re playing, chances are good that you’ll do the kicking.

My clothes are going out of style.
I have professed my family’s love for The Sandlot a number of times on this blog, and it holds as true today as it did all those other times I sang its praises (and you said, “she’s seriously talking about The Sandlot? AGAIN?!”). 
We all love The Sandlot for its many fine qualities, but we love it most for its quotability. While we all quote from The Sandlot pretty frequently, there is one quote that surpasses them all: “My clothes are going out of style!” We say this when someone is taking a particularly long time to do something, like put their coat on or make a move in cribbage. This one is a two-parter, though: if someone says “my clothes are going out of style” to you, you must respond with “they already are!” It’s Sandlot gold.

I’m not sure where this phrase came from, but we use it in response to someone who is complaining about something when the complaining is unmerited. For example, the five of us returned from a trip to Mexico not too long ago. My fiancée James remained in snowy South Dakota. When I came back, I was suffering from a terrible sunburn, and I was shedding my skin like a snake (gross, I know). When I whined about my sunburn – acquired in paradise while James languished in the chilly Midwest – James rightfully responded with “Boo-freakin-hoo.”

This exclamation originated with cribbage as well: if you had a particularly good hand, you would should, “Cha-CHING!” This phrase has since seeped over into everyday life, mostly in regards to unexpected money: you get a surprise refund check from the electric company, you say “Cha-CHING!” You win a dollar from a scratch card, you say “Cha-CHING!” You find a quarter on the ground, you say “Cha-CHING!” No amount is too small for our cha-chings.

KMA, as you’ve probably surmised, stands for “kiss my ass.” My family has no problem cursing at one another, but for some reason, that phrase has been immortalized as an acronym. Once again, we primarily use “KMA” for cribbage battles. When someone (cough DAD cough) gets particularly gloaty about a good cribbage hand, you look him dead in the eyes and say, “KMA.” It’s water off a duck, but still!

Son of a BITCH!
Much like “we kicked their ass,” this catchphrase is all about inflection. Remember that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie gets the Little Orphan Annie secret decoder pin and has to lock himself in the bathroom to decode the super-secret message and it ends up saying “be sure to drink your Ovaltine”? And then he’s all disappointed and says “Ovaltine? A crummy commercial? Son of a BITCH!” We adopted that exact inflection from A Christmas Story, and it’s been serving us well for years.

Can you hear my hair turning white?
Nobody uses this phrase except for Dad, but he’s earned it over the years. My family loves to tell stories, especially when they’re at the expense of others, and especially ESPECIALLY when Dad’s the one on the receiving end of some grief. For example: the April Fool’s Day story (when I convinced my boyfriend whom no one liked to call Dad on April Fool’s Day and ask for my hand) is a tried-and-true classic, and we tell it any chance we get. The recollection of Dad spluttering and gasping like a dying fish while trying to let Hipster Boyfriend down easily is etched into our memories forever. Whenever anyone tells this story, Dad will look plaintively at the listener and say, “Can you hear my hair turning white?” Other stories that evoke this reaction include my creepy New Orleans landlord (where my roommate stuck a note under my door telling me to get out while I still can) and basically any story where his dumbass kids are doing something stupid (which happens more often that it should, probably).

Mom’s drunk again.
This is the newest addition to our list, but I have a really good feeling about it. We were in Cancun at the beginning of January, and aside from drinking mojitos, people-watching was our number-one hobby. Mitch, Dad, and I were floating around the pool one morning when we saw a 40-something woman – drink in hand – ask her 10-year-old son to hoist her out of the pool, as she was too drunk to do it herself (I know she was on vacation in Mexico, but seriously, it was only 10am). Her son dutifully lifted her out of the pool, and she proceeded to tip over onto her back like a turtle. Surprise, she couldn’t get up on her own, so her poor kid was summoned to scrape her off the ground and deposit her in a chair. I looked at Dad and Mitch and said, “That poor kid. ‘Mom’s drunk again.’” A few minutes later, the drunk mom’s male companion showed up, and they began some serious face-sucking… all while that kid sat nearby and looked like he was wishing for death. Of course, we were still watching all this, so Dad said, “Again, that poor kid… ‘Mom’s making out with her boyfriend again… where’s Dad when I need him?!’” This phrase traveled back to my own mother, who was definitely the least drunk mom at our resort. Anytime Mom said or did something goofy, we said, “Mom’s drunk again!” Of course, “Mom” can be exchanged for anyone doing something stupid, but it all started with some poor kid’s drunk mother.

Red flag!
These last two catchphrases are the Big Kahunas of the group, so pay attention. As you know, a red flag generally means stop what you’re doing. When we use the term “red flag,” we’re generally pointing out flaws in significant others. When our friends Chris and Rachel got married, Dad went so far as to craft tiny red flags out of red tape and toothpicks.
They loved the red flags!
There are really two kinds of red flags: the ones we talk about in front of your significant other, and the ones we don’t. James has collected more we-say-it-to-his-face red flags than anyone I know, so much that Mitch taped tiny red flags to James’s Christmas stocking this year. Some of James’s red flags have been temporary (he lost a red flag when he got rid of his Delta 88), and all the rest are minor enough that we’re not afraid to tell him about them (which I’m sure he totally appreciates). Everybody has red flags, even me (I know, I know, you thought I was perfect). Of course, our good qualities are the green flags, but those aren’t nearly as fun to talk about.

I’m not saying you ARE fat…
My friends, this is not only a top-ten catchphrase, but one of my family’s favorite Christmas stories of all time. It was Christmas (year?), and every year, my mom made a photo calendar for her mother: my grandma Lorraine. I love Grandma Lorraine to pieces, but she is not afraid to let you know just what she thinks. Out of all her children, my mom lives the closest, so she bears the brunt of Grandma’s sass. Anyway, Grandma got this photo calendar for Christmas, and Mom had included a picture of her and her niece, Alana. 
This picture is infamous.
Grandma took one look at that picture and said, “Brenda, you look fat in this picture.” My mom’s jaw dropped. “MOM!” she said incredulously. Grandma countered with, “I’m not saying you ARE fat; you just LOOK fat!” Everyone (save for Mom and Grandma) proceeded to die of laughter. This particular gem – courtesy of Grandma Lorraine – has kept us entertained for years, especially if someone sets themselves up by asking how they look. Mom thinks it’s funny now, and we love nothing more than to retell this story at Christmastime. Some families read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and others read about baby Jesus. We tell the story of how Mom isn’t fat; she just looks fat… and everyone is filled with Christmas spirit!


After this extra-special glimpse into my family dynamic, I bet you feel like a bona fide member of the family now. Bonus points if you use one (or all!) of these next time you see us!


  1. Hahaha...love this:) and we love the Bjorklund family! I think another fine addition would be the birthday card to our son Charlie on his 1st birthday, from your Mom and Dad...The front has a piture of a cute dinosaur and says Happy Birthday, on the inside your Dad wrote...."Brenda actually remembers when dinosaurs roamed, but I don't. Tim"...lol:) We all had a good giggle! After 5 years of marriage and 10 years as a couple, Chris and I still have and cherish our red flags...seriously they are in my wedding picture/unity candle display cabinet:) They come in handy sometimes! -Rachel Clelland-proud owner of her very own Bjorklund hand crafted Red Flags:)

    1. Haha, leave it to Dad to write something snarky about Mom on Charlie's birthday card! :) That's so neat that you guys still have your red flags - I wouldn't be surprised if a couple showed up somewhere at James's and my wedding! :)