Code Words to Hide what we Meant to say...Let's Go Brandon

WSJ, 12302021, Opinion Page, ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ and other Codes

Speaking in code is nothing new, although it got unexpected attention on Christmas Eve when a father of four from Oregon called a “Santa Tracker” phone line staffed by Joe Biden and got the president to assent to the seemingly innocuous statement “Let’s go, Brandon.” The phrase grew out of an interview following an October Nascar race in Alabama, when the crowd shouted an obscenity followed by Mr. Biden’s name. A reporter told the winning driver, Brandon Brown, that fans were chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon.” It stuck, at least in some circles, and the phrase has appeared on protest signs, in Republican congressional speeches, and on merchandise. One store only stocking ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ merchandise is opening its 9th and 10th stores. Mr. Biden seemed unaware of the taunt’s meaning, telling the caller, “I agree.” Jill Biden, however, rolled her eyes in apparent disgust.

A code word is a word or a phrase designed to convey a predetermined meaning to an audience who knows the phrase while remaining inconspicuous to the uninitiated. We really should use a better word; euphemism, a mild or pleasant word or phrase that is used instead of one that is unpleasant or offensive.

Some Common Codes used:

  • Disney World refers to a troublemaker as a “treasured guest.”

    • A “Code Winnie” alert means someone urinated in the pool.

  • Legislators know that a reference to “my friend” means “that jerk across the aisle.”

  • Merchants are fond of using “convenience fee” as a code for unfair and inconvenient charges.

  • A “Dr. Firestone” page in hospitals means there’s a fire in the building.

  • At sea, “Code Oscar” indicates a person overboard.

  • “Operation Rising Star” signals that a passenger has died in the air.

  • A Story: I could never understand why my assistant was so frequently asked about the weather in our office. It seems her answers—cloudy, sunny, etc.—was code to describe my mood.

  • My mother using my middle (or full) name meant I was in trouble. Many of our mothers shared the same codeword.

  • A Story: I worked at McDonald’s in the early days when they had Ice buckets at each food order position at the counter. Every once in a while, someone would call out "Ice Check" if the ice was low and someone had to fill up the buckets. Someone called out "Ice Check," and I looked, and all the buckets had just been filled. "What gives? We have plenty of ice", the young manager pulled me aside and told me it was code for a good-looking girl at the order line. It was "Eyes Check" …look upfront.

  • Story of Don Meredith. When the ABC cameras panned in on a disgruntled Oiler's fan clearly making an obscene gesture, Dandy Don quickly quipped, "Yes sir, he thinks the Oilers are Number One."

  • Code Adam; This is an alert for a missing child used in many public locations like malls, hospitals, supermarkets, and museums. Walmart coined the term in 1994 in memory of Adam Walsh, a 6-year-old who was abducted from a Sears and was found murdered.

  • Code Oscar: This code is used on ships to indicate a man overboard.

  • Did your grade school class ever develop a code that the teacher did not know, but everyone laughed at… every time?

  • Do you and your partner have a secret code for sex? Better yet, did your parents have one that you decoded? No, I will not be sharing ours…

    • “Do you wanna lock the door?”, “Are you tired?”, “The kids are asleep”, ”Should I put the dog outside?”, “Do you have a headache?”, 'Come tuck me in',

  • Do you have a secret code with your partner when you want to leave a party, etc.?

  • Recovering from one of my many open-heart surgeries, the nurses would close all room doors if there was an emergency - we figured this one out fast. Later, you would see an empty gurney being pushed by two men down the hall - the deceased’s body was in the hidden lower section!

  • and of course, our kids have developed many code words for texting/sexting - these are available online, know them well! Drug Dealers also have their own codes.

Codes are excellent and valuable; they serve multiple purposes, all good and make life easier and less ‘in your face.’ Would you rather that Biden haters yell the actual words? That your mom and dad openly discussed sex in front of you. That you knew there was an emergency going on that you have no way of avoiding? What are some code words/euphemisms you remember?

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