When you marry for the second time, you slowly come to realize that you and your spouse each have different frames of reference. Prior to this marriage there was a previous one where words and phrases were used differently. Things were said and joked about in that relationship, and from those moments a different “marital lexicon” of sorts was created. After that marriage ended, I mentally cleaned the attic of speaking habits, expressions, and most definitely endearments. This is a healthy process because it starts everything fresh and anew.
But unlike Soviet-era history textbooks, your brain is not a loose-leaf volume in which pages are tossed and the past is completely erased. Just about anything can trigger a rhetorical memory. For instance, I still can’t drive by a Dairy Queen without hearing my ex squeal in her faux excited voice, “Oooh, Dairy Queen!” I really don’t want to hear it again because, as said in my best 1970’s high school burnout-speak, “it’s bogue to think about again, Man.”
Because we went to the same public schools together starting in junior high, Gorgeous loves it when I regress verbally back to my 15-year-old self. Doing so, of course, helps create a whole new lexicon for this marriage. This is good and healthy, though it may be a good idea to keep it for home-use only.
Sometimes private expressions and sayings require interpretation. As an example, Gorgeous for some reason uses a euphemism for taking a shower. She calls it changing. “I’m going to change now.” We used to finish dinner, perhaps go for a walk, and then agree to watch a TV show. She would say, “Okay, but I’m going to change first.” I said okay, would sit on the couch to turn on the TV, and I expected to see her return momentarily. Suddenly I would hear the shower going in the bathroom. That’s certainly not just changing to me, that’s also taking a shower. Twenty or so minutes later she would arrive in the living room freshly clean and ready to watch a TV show. She changed.
The other area in which spouses rhetorically strut their stuff is in the act of displaying umbrage, outrage, or annoyance. I have a friend who employs a rejoinder aimed at her husband of “Really?” followed by his first name. Any infraction of his own making will be addressed with a hearty, “Really?” by his wife.
Gorgeous has her own unique response for annoyance. I earn the all-purpose “Oh, my God” for my alleged transgressions. In my opinion, Oh, my God has more heft than “Really?” because it can be used in multiple instances that convey different feelings. There’s the “Oh-my-God!!!!” cry of total and utter disbelief, or the “Oh,… my God” slower paced vocalization that denotes a more refined disgust. As situational incredulity goes, the OMG convention is quite robust. In fact, it can even be hummed with a cadence that conveys its meaning and timbre quite clearly. I know this because I’ve heard it hummed a few times.
It should also come to no surprise then that once a phrase is uttered enough by one party, it’s bound to be repeated by the other. Trademark infringement is not a recognized sanction in marital relations, however. After my hearing “OMG” enough times, it wasn’t long before I began to use it also.
Keep in mind that this is still a blog of retirement. With both of us around each other all day since our arrival in Florida, the OMG opportunities began to multiply. Our OMGs were beginning to get their own OMGs. Something needed to be done to restore oratorical sanity if we were going to be around each other as much as we are.
Enter the OMG Cup.
It was your humble blogger’s idea to create a kangaroo court where we could enforce the phrase’s over-usage. Gorgeous initially resisted the court’s authority. But over time — especially since she has witnessed enough infractions levied against yours truly already — she has accepted its jurisdiction in what has become de-facto law in our home. With the proviso that an infraction must be a result of an utterance made from one spouse to another, as opposed to, say, a reaction when watching the TV news, a fine of $1 shall be paid to the cup as a penalty to the party who uttered the phrase.
The cup has lots of dollars in it at the moment. In fact, both of us have used it to break the occasional five or ten dollar bill. We haven’t counted it, and I think we’ll hold off on that to keep it a mystery. We also have no timeframe or plans for how we’ll spend it. I am thinking of a nice meal or drinks at some ocean side restaurant, but that is still to be determined. In the meantime, the cup is keeping us on our toes and OMG usage is way down.
What are your private pet phrases or over-used expressions? If you’re brave, share with us your endearments. But be forewarned, I have a very intelligent readership and we can spot the fakes.