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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Safe Word and the Motorcycle Man

There is a family we know who has a family safe word. Whenever someone sees something they feel inappropriate for the family to see, that person yells out the safe word and they all (apparently) obediently look down. 

While it's possible that such a practice works for them,  those in my family harbor no such fantasies. When someone makes a comment, we all look up. I believe it's human nature to look at what someone is commenting about. That practice has saved many a person from stampeding animals, for one thing. 

It's the old elephant-in-the-room syndrome. If someone says, "Don't look at the elephant in the room," where are you going to look? Come on, be realistic. That's going to be one well-perused pachyderm.

So our family laughingly set our "un-safe word" as "AAAAaaarrrgh!" knowing that everybody was going to look up and groan.When we don't want them to look at things, we don't call attention to them and the kids blithely continue to do whatever it is they do in the car (read, play games, fight).

The other day we were going to church. As we turned the corner onto a main thoroughfare, I noticed a rather portly man on a motorcycle. That in itself might have been darkly noteworthy. We've seen all kinds of oddities on motorcycles: a man in a brown tartan suit with a parrot on his shoulder, various kinds of Hell's Angels, and German army officers to name a few.

But, as well, in the tradition of plumbers everywhere, this man had rather a large part of his posterior residing outside of his pants. When he went over bumps, more of his over-gracious derrière burst out.

Now normally I wouldn't call attention to something like that. But the "AAAAaaarrrgh!" just flew out of my mouth. I wanted to cover my eyes, but, being the driver, couldn't. All the children dutifully looked up and began groaning about how I'd poked their mind's eyes out with a stick.

I believe I'm going to suggest a change of "un-safe" words to "Prestidigitation" or something similar.

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