This, for instance, is under “H” for Toy

The car is full. Two dads in the front seat, three or four boys in the back. The smell of muddy cleats and sweaty socks is strong enough to dry out your throat. The slurping sound of way-past-their-expiration-date shin guards being peeled off underscores post-game banter. We’re all heading back to the hotel so these guys and their 14 teammates can go swimming while the adults find somewhere to open some beers. The out of town tournaments were always the best.

“Hey look!”, says one of the boys. “It’s a taco truck”

All heads snap to the right, just as a pickup truck drives past, filled with young Latinos.

“Man! That’s racist!” barks someone.

“No!” replies the first boy with a disgusted tone, pointing out the window. “Taco truck.”

The truck passes, revealing to the rest of us the taco truck parked in a nearby lot, serving a line of customers.

True story. And one of my family’s favorite inside jokes. Almost every time we stop at a food truck, taqueria, or Mexican restaurant, one of us says, “Hey, look, a taco truck.” In fact, one of the few times we DON’T repeat it is when we pass a truck full of people of Latin descent. Because man, that would be racist.

We also keep trying, in the face of unrelenting and frankly incomprehensible resistance, to name a team what we believe is the single greatest name in the whole of the team-naming universe.

Your Mom.

We keep submitting it, and it just keeps getting rejected. Weird, right? Think about it:

“Who are you playing tonight?”
“Your Mom.”

“We got crushed last night by Your Mom.”

“Your Mom just won the championship!”

“Who’s that guy?”
“He plays for Your Mom.”

How is that not brilliant? But since no one else seems to recognize our brilliance, it has become  just another go-to inside joke.

And if you ever see the four of us (well, usually the three of us since She would usually be standing by, wondering where her life went so very wrong) standing in a weird cluster, staring blankly in weird, unrelated directions, it’s because upon seeing a camera one of us muttered, “Sven”.

Sven, the Swedish Architect Collective. The much-hated rival of Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother.  Sven, on the cover of a magazine, were photographed standing in a weird cluster, staring blankly into the distance.

Years ago, when The Boys were young, maybe seven and five, we’d gone to see a movie. One of the pre-trailer commercials was playing, a brightly-colored eye-mugging of anthropomorphized zoo animals singing and dancing about the amazing restorative powers of Sprite. It ended, in true Dolby Sound, with the words, “The Power of Lemon Lime…”

“That was Lemon Lame.”

The people around us laughed and turned, looking at my 5-year old, who having just dropped a Righteous Truth McNugget, was now slurping his own soda out of his oversized cup.

All our little inside jokes are little souvenirs we took from our adventures. We won’t always have bought the T-shirt, but we’ll always have The Tale of Two Martinis. Or the story of our first president, Gerg Wasmington. And of course the song, “J. Edgah Hoovie”. Oh, and the pictures of “Sven-ing” and the “Painted Toenails”.

When The Boys have families of their own I hope they build a catalog of stories, and songs, and inside jokes. I would love for them to laugh at clipped phrases, and answer questions with a seemingly incongruous half-quote, and to start dancing at some unseen signal. I hope they pile up enough adventures together that I won’t know what the hell any of them are talking about.

So when I, as the weird old grandfather say, “what does that mean?” They’ll reply, “You kind of had to be there.”

Maybe I’ll answer, “that’s a bold move Cotton.”

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