Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Only Lied about Being a Thief

One of the funnest things about the very fun Ocean movies is the slang terms for thief gags. There’s a shocking shortage of Internet information on the definitions of these, so here are my best guesses based on contextual clues:

When a colleague poses as a famous person in order to distract onlookers while you thieve in peace.

Bundle of Joy
When a women pretends to go into labor to create a distraction.

Hell in a Handbasket
A similar strategy, but involving a cat trained to make some sort of ruckus.

Susan B. Anthony
When you leave behind a coin/token, which an innocent bystander picks up to insert in a rigged slot machine.

Apparently involves taking another person's clothes in order to pose as that person.

Billy Martin
When someone who has transgressed the thieves’ code of ethics is offered a single chance to make restitution.

Other terms of indeterminate meaning:
Swinging Priest
Crazy Larry
Baker’s Dozen
Soft Shoulder
Jim Brown
Miss Daisy
Leon Spinx
Ella Fiztgerald
Smuggler’s Paradise

In hope of becoming somewhere near as cool as Ocean and co., Mark and I are working on our own secret lingo for the parental gags we pull. This began when we needed a codeword for when one of us wants to caution the other without undermining authority in front of the kids. So now, when one of us is getting a bit too harsh, the other says, "The basement is flooding and the pilot light is out." This is what Julia Roberts tells George Clooney over the phone when the bad guys arrive on her doorstep.

(And yes, once after I said this to Mark, he disappeared into the basement for a while, then returned to tell me that he checked and the pilot light looked just fine.)

Other contenders:

Tower of Babel, as in "Can you give it to me in Tower of Babel?"
When the parents don't want to the kids to know what they're saying and so speak in a foreign language, Pig Latin, or with obscuratively large words.

Blitz, as in "It's time for a blitz."
When a parent persuades the children to tidy like mad for a small, specified amount of time; usually employed with an egg timer.

Cuban Missile Crisis, as in "I think we’re having a Cuban Missile Crisis."
When, as a result of fatique, hunger, or stress, a child is observed to be on the very brink of total meltdown and must be treated with special care.

Do-si-do, as in “Please, let’s do a do-si-do.”
When one parent's patience with one child is about to snap while the other parent's patience is about to do the same with a second child; parents switch targets.

Switcharoo, as in "Time for a switcharoo."
When dinnertime conversation becomes too crude and a parent intercedes with something like, "So, what happened at school today?"

A Freud, as in "Shall we give him a Freud?"
When parents invite a child for a private conversation on the master bedroom couch; conversation usually involves plea for greater rectitude or caution.

Playing Chicken, as in "Are you playing chicken?"
When a sleeping parent hears a disturbance but remains totally motionless and concentrates on breathing steadily in hopes the other parent will rise to the call.

I’m working on some additions. In the meantime, what gags do you parents pull?


  1. Hilarious! We've never seen these...sounds like fodder for an upcoming movie night.

  2. I wish we had cool gags like that.

  3. I just love your adoration of Ocean's movies.
    Richard and I have taken to yelling out "intervention!" or "Bob, it's time to engage!" when we need help. The latter is from The Incredibles and is used when crazy things are happening and one parent is being totally oblivious.
    "Intervention" is most commonly used when Asher is doing something crazy but my hands are too full to do anything and it would take too long to say "Honey? Asher is about to pull the entire knife block down onto his head which would also cause the entire silverware drawer to fall. Could you please get him off that chair and move the knife block back?"

  4. I wish I were creative enough to add to your list. I'm sitting here drawing a blank, maybe because all I can think is how you are so full of surprises: ocean movies, super bowl parties? I remember when you lived in a garden shed and followed the grateful dead around.

    p.s. could you please blog about the shed sometime??? I feel like an outsider in your new life, which apparently involves a master bedroom sofa.