Speaking in tongues, plus a simple Greek salad

Chris and Jess

I imagine most people who live together–families, roommates, partners–end up developing a way of communicating that is unique to them.

Growing up, my brother and I certainly did. As teenagers, unsure as to how to best express ourselves–or being too lazy to even try– we spoke a special language that mostly involved movie quotes. For example, instead of saying, Good morning, we might say:

“Heavy, Mr. Bond?” (A James Bond movie. I can’t remember which one.)

“Oh no! There’s a peck with an acorn pointed at me!” (Willow)

“You wanna get outta here? Talk to me” (In an Australian accent, from Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior)

Maybe my mom or dad would ask us to do something around the house and one of us would say:

“Oh, I was going to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters!” (Star Wars)

And the other, without missing a beat, would reply:

“You can waste time with your friends when your chores are done.” (Also Star Wars)

Sometimes, we would just hum, usually in falsetto, movie theme songs to each other, like the beautiful one from Jurassic Park, or Superman. We might also sing a song that I composed at age six. We would sing it in a funny voice or a British accent. Or both:

Where am I, where am I? I’m in the galaxy.
There’s no hope, there’s no freedom, I’m in the galaxy. 

After five years of living with the Beast, we too have developed a special language that is unique to us. Whenever we clink glasses at home, usually during cocktail hour, one of us will say, “Cent’anni. It means a hundred years. It would be true if my father were alive.” (From The Godfather.)

And nearly every morning, the first thing one of us says, is either  ” Holy fuck holy fuck holy fuck. Have you thought about what we’re having for dinner tonight??!?! What about three nights from now? What the fuck are we going to eat!?!?” Or, in a British accent, “It’s a new world!” (Shakespeare in Love)

We sing altered jingles and songs to each other while, say, pouring a cup of coffee:

“Nine six seven, eleven eleven. Fucking Pizza Pizza!”

“He’s the best! He’s simply better than all the fucking rest!”

“Fabbbb riccc landdd. Fucking Fabricland!”

The other night my friend Erinn came over for dinner. It was the first meal on the patio this season. We started with some fennel taralli, cacciatore, parmigiano and olives, along with a couple of Campari and sodas.


We followed that with white wine, crusty bread and Greek salad. It was sort of deconstructed: I sliced tomatoes, red onion, red pepper and cucumbers and arranged them on two plates. This was topped with a generous chunk of sheep’s milk feta, good olive oil, salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and fresh oregano.

Greek salad

It occurred to me that despite not living with her, Erinn and I have also developed  our own little language. Actually, it might just be that I mimic her very individual expressions when I’m in her company. She often shortens words, like “emotional” to “emosh” or “amazing” to “maze”.  She squeals, “Oh my giaaadddd!” if you complement her, followed by, “You’re cray-cray!” (Crazy.) And she calls herself a “losebag”. The Beast knows when I’ve just spent time with her because I’ll say things like, “I’m obvi getting my period soon cause I’m totes emosh. Ugh.”

Of course, these little colloquialisms are funny only to the parties who invent them. But they do allow a brief glimpse into what are otherwise private worlds.

You know what else does? Your fucking Netflix history.

Every night for the past couple of weeks, at about 9:00p.m., the Beast and I have the same conversation:

Foodie: Legal drama?

Beast: How about a Holocaust documentary?

Foodie: Spanglish?

Beast: Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State?

Foodie: Just Friends?

Beast: Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky?

Foodie: Did we finish Wallander?

Beast: Yes, like months ago. What about Hiroshima?

Foodie: The Jane Austen Book Club?

Beast: Fatal Attraction?

Foodie: Oh my god yes!! Are you serious?

Beast: No.

Foodie: Have you ever even seen it?

Beast: No.

Foodie: It’s settled.

After the meal on the patio with Erinn, we ended up on the couch trying to pick a movie on Netflix, too:

Erinn [while I scroll through some titles]: Have it in VHS, seen it, love it, seen it, have it on VHS, seen it, seen it, seen it, HATED it. Oh my giaaaddddd! I have four of those Julia Roberts movies on VHS!

Foodie: I love The Jane Austen Book Club.

Erinn: It’s the best!

Foodie: I would watch Sleepless in Seattle, Friends with Money, Chocolat, Young Victoria

Erinn: I love Young Victoria!

Foodie: It’s the best!

We settled on Kissing Jessica Stein, which I’d never seen. We were pleasantly distracted throughout the screening with a discussion on what makes fashion from the ’90s so unique (spaghetti straps, hair clips, little cardigans, chunky shoes, 3/4 length boots, sparkly eye shadow), while we finished a second bottle of wine, followed by a little J&B.

Thoreau once wrote:

The millions are awake enough for a physical labour; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, and only one in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive.  I have never yet met a man who was quite awake.  How could I have looked him in the face?

He’s probably right. Still, I’m satisfied enough being able to look those with whom I share distinct dialecs in the face and quote the important, Academy Award-winning 1975 film, Jaws:

Well, this is not a boat accident! And it wasn’t any propeller; and it wasn’t any coral reef; and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper! It was a shark.

One response to “Speaking in tongues, plus a simple Greek salad

  1. I’m having heart pangs imagining an evening like that with you. What a gorgeous post from start to finish!

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