Jul 10, 2011

Visiting Mrs. Murphy

by Marsha Ward

I remember a more genteel day when one was encouraged to use euphemisms when talking about uncouth topics or bodily functions. No "let it all hang out, baby," attitude then. Sometimes I wish our world would return to that gentler time, but it's probably gone forever in the gathering sin of our era.

For example, our family enjoyed day trips and camping trips that took us to the far nooks and crannies of Arizona. Yes, I think we girls wore dresses on our day trips. We did wear slacks when we camped, but I know I was wearing a dress when my brother was car-sick upon me.

One of my favorite catch-phrases of all time was put in play when we needed to stop and find a bush or tree behind which to do a bodily function. We girls would say, "I need to visit Mrs. Murphy." The boys usually said they had to see a man about a dog. How much more gentle such phrases fall on the ear than "Stop! I have to go to the bathroom!" Or something much worse.

Did your family have special code phrases? What were they?


  1. Just little girl's room as I recall. I think my dad would say something about watering a tree and I, blunt person that a I am, always thought it wasn't water the poor tree would get.

  2. I'm rolling because years ago my brother and I's favorite comment was "Sh** happens." My mother told us that was disgusting and there were better ways to say things. So we challenged her and she came up with "Unpleasant things do occur." So now that's my family's fav saying to each.

  3. My dad always referred to a potty break as "the pause that refreshes," or as "taking care of business." My mother always called it going to the toilet. No wonder I'm confused, somewhere in between directness and euphemisms.

  4. We would say to farts "those barking spiders" and my brothers would say "going to color the water" Now that I think of it that one is still yucky.

  5. I agree with you, Marsha! I get frustrated when catch myself using words and terms I never would have said in public during my growing up years. I have been trying to encourage my daughters to act and speak in a more refined manner...and to do so myself. I even wrote a letter to a stake president, after his presidency did a skit in front of the stake girls' camp that was full of potty humor, about how we should be encouraging the young women in a different direction. I never did get a reply...but I noticed that the skits took on a different tone after that.


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