Here are some of my favorite things my wife Aleen says.

1.  Take Yes for An Answer. You would be surprised how many times it comes in handy.  Use it when people continue to argue a point you have already conceded, or when they stay on their soap box even after you say two or three times that you agree with them.

2.  Song and Pony Dance. This belongs to a subset of sayings which are basically mixed-up idioms that Aleen, who is a Lebanese-born Armenian, blurted out in moments of excitement.  She was trying to say either “song and dance” or “dog and pony show,” but ended up with her own brilliant combination.  Meaning:  event which is contrived or orchestrated in perfunctory, workmanlike way.

3.  Walk the dog, Bob. Very specific genesis to this saying, but good general applications.  Came about when she overheard me discussing the emergency financial bailout legislation of 2009.  She was upstairs.  I was in the backyard.  She couldn’t see me, but could hear through open window a long, somewhat detailed conversation on bailout details.  When I came upstairs later, she said, “Who were you talking to?”  I said, “Bob.”  She said, “Bob, the dogwalker?” I said yes.  She said, “Is he a broker or something?”  I said, “No.  He’s just following it on the news.”  She puttered around for a minute or two before remarking, to no one in particular and certainly not to our lovely dogwalker, who had long since left:  “Just walk the dog, Bob.”  This saying has since become our shorthand for telling someone to stick to their assigned task.  Again, you will be surprised how often you get to use it.  Bonus fact:  when you do find someone who is giving advice or opinion outside of their area of expertise, there is a GREAT word for this kind of advice:  ultracrepidarian.

4.  This is a bunch of crock! As screwed-up idioms go, it’s hard to beat this one.  This one popped out when Aleen was voicing outrage.  She was aiming for “crock of shit” or “bunch of bullshit.”  Her mangled combination has dual application.  You can use it in an actual moment of outrage.  Or you can use it when your foreign-born spouse or friend screws up some other idiom, but doesn’t realize it yet, and you want to alert them.

5.  Who are you – Andre Mariotti? No general application to this one.  It’s just funny.  I was driving too fast.  She was trying to accuse me of driving like 1970s-era IndyCar/Formula One racing star Mario Andretti.

6.  Handsome Is as Handsome Does. This is actually a saying from my maternal great-grandmother and grandmother.  You can tell it’s an old saying by the archaic use of “handsome,” which used to be applicable to men or women.  This saying is to remind the listener that there is outer beauty, and there is inner beauty, and the latter is more important.  Aleen uses it with our kids.  Its nice that this one stayed in our family, and even jumped over to the Armenian side.

7.  Pipe down. Frequently used by Aleen.  Similar in meaning to “simmer down now.”  Also archaic.  Best deployed in a generally cheerful, happy context when you are trying to keep people focused and trying to keep stray commentary to a minimum.

8.  Sheer hell.  She said this one during a vacation in Italy when some minor aspect of lodging or accommodations wasn’t absolutely perfect.  With typical hyperbole, she referred to it as “sheer hell.”  Now she still uses it.  It means, “This one little thing kind of sucks, but how can I complain about it, since everything else is ridiculously good, but you know what, this one little thing does still suck!”

9.  Apology accepted. The key here is saying this at the correct time.  My wife says it preemptively when I am not aplogizing, but am still in fact arguing my original position. Saying it catches the other person offguard, makes them think that they have misspoken or that your intelligence is actually much higher or lower than they previously estimated.  Sometimes it just allows both people to walk away from exchange as if there had been a civil, adult ending to what was probably a very stupid argument to begin with.  This is a very fun one to use.  Deploy it today.

10.  With All Due Respect. Warning! Danger!  Major red flag!  If you are hearing this from my wife, it is likely that she is about to launch into a tirade which demonstrates that she actually has no respect for you or what you have done, nor for the people who brought you into this world in the first place.  This is bad prepositional phrase to encounter.  The only good news is that, syntax-wise, it generally comes at the front of the sentence, so it does serve as early alert that you are about to get it but good, big guy.

Originally published on Kit Troyer’s Blog.

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  • Kit Troyer lives in Los Angeles. He worked previously as a newspaper reporter and a criminal defense attorney. For the last 15 years, he has been a stay-at-home dad. But that gig is running out. Kids will soon be moving out and moving on.