Monday, January 2, 2017

Bjorklundosophy, volume III.

My family is a wordy bunch.

But of course you knew that.

It has become an annual Christmas tradition for me to compile my family's oft-said phrases into a book, dubbed Bjorklundosophy

We are up to the third volume of Bjorklundosophy, which made its debut at Christmas 2016. If you feel like brushing up on your Bjorklundosophy, read volume I and volume II!

And here it is, in all its Bjorklund-y glory. Prepare to be educated!


Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.
On the whole, the Bjorklunds are an honest people – if you ask them a question, you will most likely get a candid response. After you receive said candid response, you may not appreciate such honesty. Should this be the case, a Bjorklund will simply state, “Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.” You may recall from earlier editions of Bjorklundosophy that another such phrase exists in their lexicon: “do you really want to know?” The difference between the two is slight but of utmost importance. “Do you really want to know” is a question you ask before you deliver an answer, and “don’t ask if you don’t want to know” reminds you that you asked and therefore must deal with the truthful reply.

Bjorklunds are a punny folk, and they want you to know when they’ve been clever. (Or, what they perceive as clever.) If a Bjorklund interjects a pun into an everyday conversation, they will pause, say – “Ha!” – and continue. The “ha” is a signal to you that they are witty, and they are going to make sure you know it.

I’m self-employed, not unemployed.
The self-employed Bjorklund in question is none other than Tim, the faaaaather. As Tim has been a farmer for all of his adult life, self-employment is nothing new to him. However, it still hasn’t quite sunk in with some of his family members. Tim tends to be the go-to guy for such errands as helping people move and giving rides to the airport. Not that Tim minds, but the general attitude tends to be, “Call Tim! He’s not doing anything!” Tim then feels as though he must remind said relatives that he is self-employed, not unemployed. To them, it’s the same thing.

Don’t tell your grandma.
This Bjorklundism originated years ago when an antique love seat of Grandma Lorraine’s was being transported from her place to the Bjorklund homestead. It was strapped in the back of the pickup when, somehow, it flew out and went skidding across the highway. Unlike most people, whose first words would be “OH SHIT,” the sentence that came immediately from Brenda were, “Don’t tell your grandma.” The three Bjorklund kids, knowing when Brenda was life-or-death serious, sure didn’t tell their grandma. Brenda did eventually tell Lorraine what had happened, long after the scrapes and dings on the love seat had been repaired. The best part? Lorraine was unable to find the damage on her own, but when Brenda pointed it out, she clucked in disapproval. And THAT is why you don’t tell your grandma.

Shame on me.
Midwesterners are, on the whole, a kind folk. However, they have their moments. Whenever a Midwesterner talks shit about someone, they tend to either precede or conclude their shit-talking with the statement, “Bless her/his heart.” In a Midwesterner’s eyes, this gets them off the hook for whatever mean thing they said because a blessing was invoked upon the gossipeeBjorklunds are not in the business of blessing hearts, but they do have an equivalent statement: shame on me. “Shame on me” is more honest than “bless her/his heart,” as Bjorklunds are up front about saying something unkind. “Shame on me” typically follows the less-than-flattering statement. Example: “I hope that idiot (insert name of person) gets hit by a truck. Shame on me.” (It is important to note that, while the Bjorklunds say these words, they don’t actually feel shame. I bet you already knew that.)

It could be worse/there’s your silver lining.
Like all families, the Bjorklunds are an interesting mix of optimists and pessimists, with a few realists thrown in for good measure. Tim is one of the optimists, and his years in farming combined with his years knee-deep in the politics of small-town living have somehow left his optimism mostly intact. Tim strove to teach his children (who try to be optimists, but have a strong genetic disposition to pessimism) to keep things in perspective. Not a purveyor of greeting-card optimism (you won’t catch Bjorklunds telling you that the glass is half full), Tim taught his children to remember simply this: it could be worse. Example: “My car was stolen and my house is on fire, but it could be worse… I could NOT be a Bjorklund.” The other optimistic phrase that Bjorklunds keep in their back pockets is “there’s your silver lining.” Bjorklunds don’t waste their breath on empty sentiments, so you won’t hear them saying “every cloud has a silver lining” in a time of crisis. Instead, they will find the silver lining immediately. Example: “I broke my leg going corn-jumping yesterday, but at least I don’t have to go to work today. There’s your silver lining.”

It’s later than you think.
These words of wisdom were passed onto Tim by his grandmother when he was just a young whippersnapper. His grandmother reminded him that, though the young think they’re going to live forever, you don’t have as much time left as you may think you do: Bjorklundese for carpe diem. As all the Bjorklunds age, this sentiment becomes more and more accurate. None of the Bjorklunds feel their age, and it’s quite easy to forget that they aren’t getting any younger. But then they are reminded by a birthday or (gulp) an obituary that they’re not as young as they think they are… hence, it’s later than you think. No pressure or anything.

Ho hum.
There are two kinds of people in this world: quiet yawners and loud yawners. Tim and Brenda fall in the latter category. And the funny thing is? They both loud-yawn using the same noise… and that noise is “ho hum.” The basic execution of the Tim/Brenda “ho hum” is the same: the “ho” is said right after the inhale, and the “hum” is part of the grand exhale. However, the fine points of the “ho hum” vary slightly between Tim and Brenda. Tim will say “ho,” make a few short exhale hissing noises, and end with a mighty “hum.” Brenda, on the other hand, will drag out her “ho” into two beats and go right into the exhaled “hum.” None of their children have yet displayed any signs of the “ho hum” gene, but there’s no telling when it might manifest. This is why genetic counseling is important, folks.

Like herding cats.
Brenda uses this phrase almost exclusively in reference to Tim. As anyone who has tried to herd cats knows (and really, who hasn’t?), trying to wrangle one or more cats in the same direction is damn near impossible. Trying to wrangle Tim when he’s not quite ready to go is also damn near impossible. This situation typically occurs when the Bjorklunds are in any kind of social situation (church, the grocery store, etc), and Brenda is ready to go before Tim (see: every time). Brenda will try to herd Tim out the door, but Tim will invariably find someone else he needs to chat up. Brenda will then be left waiting patiently (HA!), and she will seize her earliest opportunity to once again attempt an exit. Odds are never in Brenda’s favor, though, because there’s always someone else Tim wants to talk to. After three or four false starts, Brenda does eventually succeed in getting Tim to the car – but chances are there’s someone else at their car at that precise moment, and Tim will have something (he thinks is) amusing to say to them. The battle is not won until the car is actually on the highway. (Notice I didn’t say moving: a Bjorklund car driving through town has been known to stop, roll down the window, and talk to someone on the street or in another car.) From start to finish, the departure process likely was closing in on an hour. Like herding cats.

I’m no rookie.
As of December 2016, the five Bjorklunds have a collective 196 years of life experience. That means, believe it or not, they’ve learned a few things over the years. Whenever a Bjorklund reveals one of their many tricks of the trade, they respond to any accolades with “I’m no rookie.” A prime example of Bjorklund non-rookie-ism is the SDSU Hobo Days parade. After years of trial and error, the Bjorklunds have finally found the perfect place to view the parade: right in front of Nick’s Hamburgers in downtown Brookings. Why? So they can get a Nick’s burger to eat while they watch the parade, and so they can be at the front of the line to get another Nick’s burger after the parade. No rookies.


And there you have it: ten more Bjorklund-isms. When will we ever run out of things to say?!

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