Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bjorklundosophy, volume II.

You may recall from this post that my family has a very special way of communicating: primarily through sarcasm and catchphrases. I gave you ten of our catchphrases and the oh-so-charming (that was sarcasm) stories behind them.

Amazingly, we've come up with ten more. Prepare to be Bjorklund-ized.

Or as we like to call it...


(a note: this is written in the third person because I put it all together in a hardcover book for my family. third person seemed totally appropriate for a book called Bjorklundosophy.)

Who wouldn't?
Of the many words one might use to describe the Bjorklunds, there is one in particular that comes to mind. “Kind?” you say. “Glorious? Humble? Spectacular?” Actually, no. “Cocky” is the word you’re looking for. Bjorklunds believe that they are God’s gift to humanity, and they are quick to tell you so. They do this with one special phrase: “Who wouldn’t?” Allow me to demonstrate. Should someone say, "I wish I could be as fantastic as a Bjorklund," a Bjorklund would respond, "Who wouldn't?" The "who wouldn't" reply is used primarily when something even slightly positive is said about a Bjorklund - and a Bjorklund goes ahead and takes it to the next level of narcissism. Bjorklunds are also allowed to "who wouldn't" themselves: they don't need to wait around for someone to say something flattering about them (but really, who wouldn't?).

Do you really want to know?
Bjorklunds, by nature, collect great stories like some people collect stamps or fine wines. Bjorklunds have myriad tales that would rank in the "best story ever" category, and this is easily one of them. When the youngest Bjorklund, Mitch, was just a teeny tiny first grader, he picked up a book in the school library. Sounds innocent enough, right? Oh no: the book was about serial killers. Innocent little Mitch was reading his book - specifically, the chapter about Jeffrey Dahmer - when he came across a word he didn't know. Mitch did what any intrepid reader would do: he asked his teacher what the word meant. The word? Sodomy. Mitch's teacher gave the best answer she could: "Go ask your dad." Mitch came home that day and did just that. Tim looked Mitch dead in the eye and said, "Do you really want to know?" Mitch nodded eagerly: yes, he did really want to know. So Tim explained sodomy. Mitch, wide-eyed, said matter-of- factly: "I didn't really want to know." From that day on, when Tim answered a question with "do you really want to know?" it meant that whatever the answer was, the Bjorklund children sure as hell didn't want to hear about it from their parents.

I should've fished the gene pool a little deeper.
I owe you an apology.
We know who the mother is.
Tim uses these delightful phrases whenever he wishes to eschew genetic responsibility for any flaws apparent in his children. It's important to note that Tim only voices these phrases when Brenda is within earshot. Poor Brenda has heard any and all of these sentences innumerable times over the nearly thirty years that they've been parents: poor eyesight, unruly hair, and large noses have all been blamed on Brenda. However, these phrases are not exclusive to whatever is wrong with the kids. If Brenda starts to (gasp!) show traits similar to those of her own mother (GASP!), Tim feels the need to ask for forgiveness from his children, as this will most certainly be their fate as well. This goes over really well with Brenda. The Bjorklund children all wonder why Brenda never apologizes for choosing their father – especially Mitch, who hears the terrible “you look just like your father” more often than anyone should have to.

Your sister... (passive ownership)
When Bjorklunds cannot apologize/explain away the imperfections (read: batshit craziness) of their family members, they resort to not claiming them at all. This delightful loophole is known to the Bjorklunds as passive ownership. For example, let’s say that Calla does something stupid… like date a studio art major in college. When Brenda is telling Darrah and Mitch about what a dumbass Calla is, she will say, “Guess who your sister is dating.” The ownership of dumbass Calla is placed squarely on Darrah and Mitch. This method spreads well into extended family… Tim will tell his children about “your mother’s brother's nephew” when the person in reference is his own son, or Calla may refer to “your husband’s son-in-law” when telling her mother about James’s obsession with yellow Subarus. The more convoluted the ownership, the better.

the faaaaather
In the great cache of favorite Bjorklund movies, Home Alone stands near the top. However, this favorite Bjorklund- ism comes not from Home Alone, but from Home Alone 2: a film inferior to its predecessor, but still possessing some fine moments of its own. The moment in question comes shortly after Kevin McCallister arrives in New York City. He records his voice on a Talkboy, slows it down, and plays it into a phone to make a hotel reservation under his father’s name. Kevin introduces himself as Peter McCallister, the father. However, on the playback, it becomes “the faaaaather.” Tim, the faaaaather of the Bjorklund clan, now leaves voicemails that all begin with “this is the faaaaather.”

Choose wisely.
Tim has issued this warning over the course of many years. It originated when one of his misbehaving children was given a choice: the right thing versus the wrong thing. The children were encouraged to choose wisely, an admonition that didn’t always stick. Over the years, this caveat became less applicable to behavior and was more commonly used in regards to the choosing of significant others. Amazingly, the Bjorklund children didn’t always heed that warning. Which brings us to…

It's not that we don't LIKE him...
You can say one thing for Tim and Brenda: no matter what kind of loser their children drag home, they’ll give said loser a chance. This Bjorklund catchphrase first came into being on the greatest day of Calla’s life: April 1, 2007. You may recall that was the day that Calla coerced her art-major boyfriend (whom her dad wasn’t particularly fond of, which was well known to Calla) into calling Tim and asking for Calla’s hand in marriage. Against all odds, Tim took the bait and spluttered through one of the most stressful phone calls of his life. Calla was listening in, and she heard him utter the now- immortal phrase: “It’s not that we don’t LIKE you… we just don’t KNOW you.” So if you ever hear a Bjorklund say this about you, it’s not that they don’t KNOW you… they’re just trying to get out of saying that they don’t LIKE you.

Poor James.
Only one of Calla's significant others has escaped the “it’s not that we don’t LIKE you” treatment, and that would be James. Everyone (Calla included) is still a little bit stunned that kind- hearted James would choose to join the rough-around-the-edges Bjorklund family… but then again, who wouldn’t? James is the opposite of a Bjorklund – he has a hard time saying a mean word about anybody, and sarcasm doesn’t come naturally to him. The Bjorklunds, as you may recall, are quick to point out his flaws: motion sickness and lactose intolerance being two that come quickly to mind. However, after mocking him for a minute or two, they will follow up with “Poor James.” Whether “poor James” is in reference to his maladies or in regards to his poor judgement in marrying a Bjorklund remains to be seen. My money is on the latter.

Anyone? Bueller?
As you know, Bjorklunds love a good movie quote – especially when it can be consistently interjected into real-life conversations. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, like Home Alone, holds a place in the Bjorklund Cinema Hall of Fame. And this particular Ferris Bueller quote is astonishingly easy to sneak into everyday use. Any time you ask a question and are met with a delayed reply, the best possible response is to slip immediately into Ben Stein mode and say "Anyone? Bueller?" It never gets old.

SIGH. I miss Mexico.
The Bjorklunds took a trip to Cancun in January 2013, and it was one of the best family vacations ever. A week of white sandy beaches and blue waters + mojitos all day, every day + sunshine in January + Mom's drunk again (see volume one) + did I mention the mojitos? The Bjorklunds long for their days in Mexico like some people long for the good old days. To the Bjorklunds, the good old days = that week in January that they spent in Mexico. Whenever they have a sub-par mojito at a bar (and let's face it: any mojito not consumed on a beach in Mexico is a sub-par mojito), or the weather is less than absolute perfection, they heave a mighty sigh and say, "I miss Mexico." Who wouldn't?
(editor's note: after Bjorklundosophy was written, we Bjorklunds took a trip to Jamaica, which was completely and totally amazing. I would imagine that this phrase will soon become "SIGH. I miss Jamaica.")

Assburger/Trojan smile.
Tim and Mitch have a habit of smirking in pictures, and the remaining smiley Bjorklunds are forced to say ridiculous things in order to get Tim and Mitch to crack real smiles. "Assburger" and "Trojan smile" are two of those things. "Assburger" originated on a family trip to Arizona. The Bjorklunds were in a restaurant contemplating lunch, and Darrah left to check out the gift shop. She returned to find them discussing Asperger's Syndrome. "Assburgers?!" she exclaimed. "I thought we were having hamburgers!" The Trojan smile came about one Christmas Eve when Mitch received Trojan condoms in his Christmas stocking. Allow me to give you a makeshift flow chart for the long journey of these condoms. Mitch finds condoms in the basement -> confronts Tim -> Tim says they could be his from a birthday card prank several years ago -> the condoms show up in Mitch's stocking months later  -> Calla claims ownership from an ill-fated high school movie -> but wait, Bob bought them, so they're Bob's. Everyone promptly died of laughter, and every Bjorklund is more than happy to demonstrate a big Trojan smile.


My family is obviously not a normal family. This is exactly how we communicate, and I can honestly tell you that I wouldn't have it any other way. 

That, my friends, is Bjorklundosophy.

(if you've been paying attention, you'll know that there are actually eleven catchphrases here instead of ten. consider it a bonus.)

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