If I wrote write here: “I’m going to bed with a beer and a book,” my old friend on Bainbridge would laugh – and picture the two of us bottling raspberry jam while four crabby and bored small children flailed around us, surprised by the sudden appearance of her husband suffering a cold, and his seemingly reasonable announcement.
Some of these one-liner phrases enter the lexicon of intimates never to leave, and can live on, because they’re useful. They’re code words – replaying a chuckle or a belly laugh, or inviting the joy of absurdity when applied to a new situation.
On one of my first trips with my husband, a waiter (barely hiding his displeasure) brushed “ein noodle” from a white tablecloth. To this day any small, single, slightly icky, misplaced object becomes “ein noodle.” And many years ago on a backpacking trip, as we broke camp in the morning, a two-year old traveler, engrossed in setting up his “guys,” and not inclined to hit the trail, said plaintively, “Can’t we just poop and play army?” a phrase capturing exactly the feeling of being hassled by commitment and demands. (I really loved it when I heard Mrs. Hughes use it aptly to describe a situation.)
Lady Baby produces memorable lines now, and gets it when she is part of, or the creator of, an in joke. Sometimes she uses the more formal language of literature, words like cupboard and grandmother. One day she told her amazed mother: “I’m satisfied with you mommy.” She often asks “why?,” both in a two-year old reflexive way and in a legitimate expression of curiosity. She seems to know when the question can’t really be answered, but isn’t it fun to ask – repeatedly.
I missed the heyday of “I know, but…,” which apparently became for a time a frequently repeated, wee bit argumentative comment, as in response to a parental directive for bed time: “I know, but I must do x or y first.” And a few weeks ago, when her dad told her he loved her, her response was “I know, but I love Uncle Tutu.”
And that stuck. Luckily we all love her Uncle Tutu, so now when we say “I love you,” and she grins and replies, “I love Tutu,” then we say “I love Tutu, too.”
I recognize this as one of those jokes that may not be the least bit funny here in the retelling. But she knows we are all enjoying ourselves. She makes the joke, gets the joke, and makes us laugh.
What a gift. Little repeated phrases that are a quick laugh when reapplied or applied anew – with or without irony – I love that.
And I love Tutu, too.