In my family, we speak in movie quotes a lot. Other people might not understand, but my husband knows exactly what I mean when we go to an over-the-top birthday party and I say, “It’s all for you, Damian. All for you.” Just like I know what he means when someone wishes us a Merry Christmas and he says, “And a Happy New Year to you . . . in jail!” Sometimes our quotes don’t even make sense—we just like the way they sound. Which is why even in Flagstaff we will sometimes turn to one another and say, “I’ll meet you at the monorail!” (Don’t worry if you don’t recognize that one. The only reason it has any meaning to us is that we were both at the exact same state of sleep deprivation one afternoon when Clementine was a sleepless infant, and Storm said that line to the other X-Men. I guess you had to be there.)

At one time I was afraid that this part of our relationship was going to end—after all, I can probably count on one hand the number of times my husband and I have been able to watch a movie together since our kids were born. But then came the miracle of Netflix, and even though we still almost never get a chance to watch a movie together, we can still, given enough time, manage to watch the same movie in the same month. Which is how we discovered our new favorite line.

It’s from the Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman movie “Seven.” (Yeah, I know—I’m about a decade behind). Anyway, the line from “Seven” that we find ourselves using lately is “What’s in the box?” (For those of you who are also a decade behind, I won’t ruin it for you by telling you “what’s in the box,” but I will tell you this: it’s nasty.)

It’s not so much the line—the words themselves are fairly innocuous—but the way Brad Pitt delivers it. “What’s in the box?” he says in this pathetic, dread-filled whine, in a way that lets you know that he knows exactly “what’s in the box.” That’s the way my husband and I say it to each other when we have to undertake some potentially unpleasant task like cleaning out a school backpack that has just been “discovered” under the bed at the end of the summer, or going through the pockets of a pair of pants that have made it all the way through the washer and dryer with their load of leftover Halloween candy (semi) intact.

Or lately, it’s what we’ll say to each other when one of us has to go into Clementine’s room to collect the dishes. (This happens about once every two weeks—we usually wait until we are down to such a small number of spoons that people have begun to carry them around with them at all times, like they do in concentration camps.) Anyway, one of us will go in while the second will stay just outside the door, ready to render assistance if needed. (We’d like to use the fire department’s policy of two in/two out, but we’ve never been able to find another two people willing to do it with us.)

Almost always, at some point during the dish rescue operation, the “inside” parent will gasp in horror (we’ve learned not to scream—best not to wake the inhabitants). This is the cue for the other parent to ask, in their best Brad Pitt whine, “What’s in the box?”

This does two things: one, it lets the inside parent know that the outside parent is “with” them—in spirit, if not in body. And two: it allows us to make a joke about the situation. Which, in my house, is even more vital than spoons.

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