Some of my family's quirks and rituals.
  1. "Frucht"
    We like to pronounce things differently. This is how we say "fruit."
  2. "Don't tear paper."
    I was weaned on the 2000 Year Old Man albums of Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. On one of these, Brooks plays a psychiatrist of dubious scholarship, "Docker Haldanish." Haldanish recounts the time he treated a poor woman who spent most of her time tearing up little bits of paper. Reiner asks "How did you cure her?" Haldanish responds "I told her 'Don't tear paper.'" My parents have quoted this as real advice many, many times. It's actually helpful in certain circumstances.
  3. The George Washington Bridge Song
    I don't even know whether this a thing. Maybe this is a thing. In any event, whenever my family would drive across the George Washington Bridge, we would sing a song, the lyrics of which consist solely of "George Washington Bridge, the George Washington Bridge..." It concluded with a big operatic solo for my mom, which she would always knock out of the park.
  4. "Picklies"
  5. Schlonte (shlon-tee)
    As a kid I knew instinctively that the Babar books would be made infinitely funnier by my parents' substituting the made-up word "schlonte" each time the word "elephant" appears. I was right. To this day, that is how we refer to pachyderms. My family was thrilled when Ringling Brothers announced a plan to phase out its schlonties.
  6. "Chalushous"
    Nauseated. Turns out it's Yiddish, which I really didn't know. Thought it was a Malina-ism! Thanks, @josh
  7. "Pat it and set it aside."
    This is the final step in a turkey roasting recipe that my wife and I consulted years ago. We quote it with great frequency, as a life lesson. You can't change a troubling situation at work? Pat it and set it aside. It's a nice companion piece to "Don't tear paper."
  8. "Goodgie"
    Hair tie
  9. The Dollar Game
    This was a game that my grandpa Willie -- may he rest in peace -- used to play w his grandkids. He'd sit back in his chair, put a dollar on his head, and then we'd see who could grab it (and keep it) first. He always lost. The original rules of this money-snatching game can be found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
  10. "Foofies"
  11. "Potato!"
    Mel Tormé did a whole album of Fred Astaire songs. On it he covers "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off." At one point he ends a scat by kind of randomly sing-yelling "potato!" My family likes to do this when we see potatoes.