"What does BTW stand for?" says my Sweet Sven, looking at his phone.
"Very funny," I said.
"What's very funny?"
"You know what BTW means."
"No, I don't."
"Sven, where are you from?"
"Oh. That's right. It stands for, by the way."
"Huh, I never would have guessed that," he says.
And then I thought, "But what in the hell does by the way, mean?"
Of course it is often used in the know-it-all manner, when someone is about to steal the floor.
"By the way. Did you know!?"
Here it comes.
The hair on my neck is straight out.
Time for me to shut down and take a little snooze.
I will just gulp some beer and nod.
I will come back out when those lips stop moving.
You can do it, Millie.
You can do it.
You probably cannot.
By the way, if you plan to keep your mouth shut, I would not suggest doing it with beer.
It seems that politicians have shortened the phrase to, "Look," these days.
A few are still saying, "Listen," like the last time around.
And there are some who are stuck on, "Let me tell you something."
Obviously, they are slow to learn and will not be going anywhere.
Because politicians do not have the luxury to begin every answer to every question with long ass catch phrases.
The rest of us instinctively know that the higher the volume and the stronger the emphasis on, by the way, look, listen, and or, let me tell you something, the more the person thinks they know about the topic. And the longer the person is going to be explaining.
In other words, when you hear any of those words, including by the way, it is time to fetch yourself another beer.
By the way, can also be used simply as a Segway.
He says to her, "Millie, we need to get more Kleenex."
And then she says, "That we do. You have a booger hanging. And by the way, what should we have for supper?"
By the way is also useful in giving directions.
"Excuse me ma'am. Where can a person find some illegal drugs in this here town?"
"Well, you are gonna wanna go down by the way of the railroad bridge and hang a Louie. At the gas station take a right. You will see a guy over there in a trench coat on your left, in betweenst the hot dog stand and the police station. I would recommend the chili dog and the hash brownies."
The expression can be mysterious too.
"Where in the hell did that idiot come from?"
"She came here by the way of a death in her family."
And then there is the, um, I forgot to mention, meaning.
"Oh. By the way Millie, I invited them all here for dinner tonight."
And I am very familiar with the bad news version.
"By the way. Your dog is in the pond."
When by the way is followed with your dog, and the same dog belongs to the person who is speaking to you about your dog, it is not going to be good.
And if the your is emphasized, it is probably going to be real bad.
Could even involve a skunk.
There are those who like to toss the words in at the end of their sentence.
It is the Norwegian way of saying, "Don't ya know?"
My sweet Sven's mother used to end her sentences with, "To tell you the truth."
And by the way, I never would have expected her to have been lying.
But sometimes, by the way, is that little dapple of sour cream on your spicy taco.
That scoop of vanilla ice cream on your chocolate cake.
Or the Cheez Whiz on your Ritz cracker.
That is how my sweet Sven likes to use it.
Every now and then.
Out of the blue.
When I don't see it coming.
He will say.
"I really love you, by the way."
By the way, thank you, for reading Millie Noe.
And I would like to wish you all a very happy 4th of July.