Marital Codes or Why We Don’t Have Many Friends

The Boffin and I will be celebrating our 15th anniversary on December 28th. And I realize, like many couples who have been together a long time, we have come up with our own code words and phrases that make sense to us but classify us as weirdos to the general public. I thought I would share a few in the spirit of making us just a little more understandable.

Lord Lucan 1 – “Lord Lucan” has become a long lost object: the forgotten leftover in the back of the fridge, the screwdriver that had been misplaced, that important piece of paperwork that was needed a month ago, etc. You get the idea. “I’ve found Lord Lucan!” is the tip-off sentence.

John Mills 2 – The ideal of masculinity that I jokingly thrust upon the Boffin.  I even have John Mills’s picture as the avatar for the Boffin’s contact info on my phone.

John Major voice – The Boffin is good at the former prime minister’s voice and characterizing this person. It is the voice of the overly educated, pedantic Englishman who complains about the most nitnoid things. (I don’t want to hear a word from the Boffin’s family.) It is the voice of the worst letters sent to Points of View. It is the person pointing out the blatantly obvious who is taking everything literally. The Boffin just wrote this letter as an example.

Dear Sir,

After 15 years of almost daily use, my Worthington Bishop 12oz teapot recently met with an untimely accident.  As a result, I found to necessary to procure a new teapot.  However, I was shocked and dismayed to discover that the Worthington Bishop no longer is made in the 12oz size, and I was therefore reluctantly force to buy the Worthington Bishop 16oz pot.  However, I have discovered that because I only fill the pot with 12oz of water. In order to compensate for the additional evaporative cooling resulting from the larger headspace, I have had to raise my house’s thermostat by 0.1°C (not an easy feat as it generally increments by only 1°C).  Assuming that this pot also lasts me 15 years, and similar issues are happening in every household in the United Kingdom, I have estimated that this will force us as a nation to consume the same amount of energy as Huddersfield consumes in about 1 minute and 23.2 seconds.

In keeping with the Government’s environmental policies, I suggest that you reintroduce the Worthington Bishop 12oz pot and, perhaps, bring out it’s Eco-qualities in your marketing campaign.

Yours Sincerely

Mr Herbert Q. Pedant

George and Mildred 3 – The elderly couple cruising at 20 mph in front of us.

Tom and Barbara 4 – Whenever The Boffin and I are in a gardening or, more likely, in an us-against-the world mode.

Woody and Tinny Words – Woody words are pleasant sounding words. Tinny words are harsh sounding ones.  Thank Monty Python for this one.

“My Hovercraft is Full of Eels” – Our response to a nonsensical statement. Of course, we have to attribute this to Monty Python too.

I like cheese. – Code for “My brain hurts. Let’s talk about nice things.”  Sylvester and co. are our friends.

PEOPLE! AAAAH! – Quoting Gossamer from the Bugs Bunny cartoon. Our “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” exclamation.

So, do you and your partner have any odd phrases you want to share?

1. To make a long story short, John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan disappeared in 1974 disappeared upon having a warrant for his arrest for the murder of his children’s nanny and the assault of his wife. To those in America, chances are, you haven’t heard of him. He was quite an interesting character to say the least.

2. If anyone has heard of Sir John Mills in the U.S., it is usually either as Hayley’s dad or the father from Swiss Family Robinson. Meanwhile, from the 1940s to the early 1960s, he pretty much epitomized English film masculinity: stiff upper lip, courage under fire, wry humor, knowing when to break the rules and when to conform. The running joke is that nobody has seen the beginning of Ice Cold in Alex in years because they happen to catch it while channel flipping and remain stuck watching it until the end. Sir John Mills never mattered to me until I met the Boffin.

3. George and Mildred was a spinoff sitcom of Man about the House. It was the equivalent of The Ropers being the spinoff of Three’s Company.

4. From the sitcom The Good Life or Good Neighbors, depending on where you live. Tom and Barbara Good, played by Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall respectively, were a couple living in the London suburbs who decided to become self-sufficient by growing their own food, raising livestock, and bartering to meet their needs.  The disconnect between the two worlds made for some classic comic moments.

We Failed at Game of Thrones

A replica of the famous throne.  Picture courtesy of Wicker Paradise, although I see no wicker.
A replica of the famous throne. Picture courtesy of Wicker Paradise, although I see no wicker.

Since I don’t live under a rock, I know Game of Thrones is a very popular book and TV series.  Plenty of people are more connected to the characters than they are with their own relatives, even though they seem to operate at the same level of dysfunction.  I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of the fantasy genre, but I was willing to give it a go because George R.R. Martin put some interesting historical elements into the plot lines.  Maybe, just maybe this could be the exception I was looking for.

So the Boffin and I borrowed the first season of Game of Thrones from the library.  Ladies and gentlemen, we gave it our best shot…two episodes.  The problem was it had so many historical elements that the anachronisms and references made everything too distracting.  The Boffin and I couldn’t filter our brains and just get into what was happening.  Even Lannister and Stark are too close to Lancaster and York.

But what is even more annoying was that the acting and characterizations were very good.  So now I am left wondering what is going on with characters on a show that is unwatchable to me.  Catch-22, here I am. Now, I need your help.  Remember I only saw two episodes and am stuck in 2011, and I know there are so many more plot twists and characters that the writers added.  You can probably make stuff up, and I will believe it.  Help a gal out, please!

–  Does Sean Bean (Eddard) die like he does in every other work he is in?

–  Daenerys’s eggs are dragon’s eggs.  Does she sit on them to hatch them?

–  Does someone beat the crap out of Joffrey instead of just getting a slap from Tyrion?  I hope Tyrion has another go.  Throw Arya into it, and make it a Lucha Libre showstopper.

–  I am going to guess that Bran has no memory of what Cersei and Jamie were doing and how he fell.  Am I right?  If so, holy convenient plot device, Batman!

–  Does Catelyn ever grow up when it comes to Jon Snow?  You don’t blame the love child because of what the husband did.  Bitch.  And screw Eddard for allowing this to go on.  Dickweed.

–  Does Sansa get a brain transplant and get over Joffrey?  (You can tell how much I hate the inbred bastard.)  Or does somebody push her out of a tower too?

–  Does Tyrion find true love?  I like him.  I want him to be happy.  I hope kicking the crap out of Joffrey is part of his wedding festivities.

If you can answer these, you would certainly put my mind at rest.  Or you can just mess with my brain.

Mysteries of America: The Riding Mower…with Cup Holders

When the Boffin and I bought our first house, the Boffin’s family delivered some good-natured teasing in the form of “Next we are going to see pictures of the Boffin on his riding lawn mower!”.  We would have found this amazing considering we lived in the Boston metro area at the time.  I would say being able to afford anything that warranted a riding mower was as likely as the Red Sox winning the Series, but they won at that point.  So, now that I live in the Chicago area, it was as likely as the Cubs winning the Series.

By Charles & Hudson (Flickr: Husqvarna Product Tour) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Charles & Hudson (Flickr: Husqvarna Product Tour) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Yes, I had to get that dig in there.

The truth is the riding mower is not about laziness. I won’t lie. We have our share of lazy people in the country, and some of them do own riding mowers. But our laziness as adults with our lawns usually manifests itself in other ways. Of course, people do not necessarily outsource their lawn mowing because of laziness either. Let’s not forget the inability to take care of our lawns for whatever reasons we may have, i.e. physical disabilities, time crunches, etc. So here are our standard labor saving ways of taking care of the grass.

1) Lawn services: Whether we belong to a housing association or pay a private company, we have somebody come along every week to take care of cutting and trimming our lawn and spraying down those chemicals to keep those dandelions away. And we cross fingers that the petunias survive to see another week.

2) Our kids: Lawn mowing is classic household chore to pass down to the children. Just ask my Older Brother #1. I am sure Older Brother #2 would have gotten the task too, if he didn’t have autism and mental delays. In my time, I certainly used the mower too. It builds character.

Anna in Wisconsin gets the benefits of child labor.
Anna in Wisconsin gets the benefits of child labor with the photo titled, “One of the benefits of having a teenage son”.

3) Other people’s kids: This is the route the Boffin and I are going. Our friend’s son is earning a few bucks a week to take care of our yard with the classic gas-powered push mower…that he hates. He will build a few more lessons in patience as he works toward becoming an Eagle Scout.

In most of the built-up suburban areas, most of the yards are about 1/4 to 1/2 acre of land, so a push mower does the trick, and that is what most people buy.  So why the riding mower? Not everyone lives in the built-up suburban areas.  It was designed for some of the big ass yards that we have over here. Several acres is not uncommon.

And our summers aren’t like English summers. If the weather is calling for about 38°C (That’s about 100°F.) and 100% humidity, that riding mower with cold drink in the cup holder will be a saving grace between heat stroke and you.  August in Louisiana.  Enough said.

Actually, I have one more thing to add. Because the mowers have wheels and a motor, in the USA, we have to race them. There is no other option. What I love about this video is the comments section. There are people actually suggesting that they used the wrong makes and models. There are riding mower afficianados here, folks.

We are a land of contradictions. The United States may have its deep problems, but we know how to have fun.


The Boffin’s uncle kindly let us know about the British Lawn Mower Racing Association which has been around for quite some time. It’s nice to see our friends across the Atlantic get in on the action too.

Naturally, I had to find out if there were a United States Lawn Mower Racing Association as well. I am happy to report that there is. However, they soup up the mowers and race on dirt tracks.

I should have guessed that mower racing would have been organized in some way.