Is That What They're Calling It Now?
Falling in love with the hired help does not meet with your dad's approval, Jan.
Snarky question used to imply that whatever the previous speaker was describing, the real subject matter at hand is sex:
Sweet Young Thing: ...And I've been lobbying heavily among the trustees to see that this new rule is passed!
Evil Mrs. Calhoun: "Lobbying heavily"? Is that what they're calling it now?
Alternate phrasings include "Is that what you kids are calling it these days?" and "Well, I've never heard it called that
While not limited to either gender, it does seem to be applied to eager young females most often, usually by older women who may feel threatened by them.
This happens in many examples of Truth in Television
as well: For example, when Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admitted to having an extramarital affair with a Telemundo reporter who was the Mayor's Office Correspondent for the station, the number of different phrases that "it" could be called expanded into a Hurricane of Euphemisms
. ("Covering the mayor's job", "reporting on his affairs", "staying on top of his agenda", "working the beat", etc.)
This can extend to non-sexual subjects, if the subject of the remarker's disapproval is clear (Kangaroo courts
, for example — "We will, of course, be giving you a fair trial." "Oh, is that what you call it?").
See also Have a Gay Old Time
. Contrast Accidental Innuendo
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- In Spider-Man 2099, Miguel O'Hara, the future version of Spider-Man, is caught by his girlfriend with another woman. He explains "We just... clicked." to which she replies "You clicked? Is that what it's called now?" After further argument, her parting shot is "Click you!"
- Mr Mxyzptlk, discussing Batman and Robin with Bat-Mite: "Youthful ward? Is that what they're calling it these days?"
- As the pic suggests, this line comes into play in Marvel Adventures: Avengers, where Janet has a crush on one of her dad's employees.
- In Incredible Hercules, Herc uses this line when Namora puts him in an "Atlantean crab hold" during a sparring match. Namora shoots back an Ironic Echo at the end of the same arc, when Hercules suggests using an Olympian eagle strike in combat.
- Not so subtly used in a spinoff strip to Batman: The Animated Series. When Harley refers to her and Ivy playing, Batgirl initially, and correctly, thinks they're more than friends. Hilarity Ensues.
- In Incredible Hulks #627, when a mythology expert is briefing NATO on the Power Level of the recently stolen Pandora's Box, her usage of "Hercs" as a unit of measurement for the energy radiated by mythological objects and entities is inquired about, leading to this exchange:
Dr. Sofia di Cosimo
: The god Hercules
was the first mythological figure I was able to access and... ah... test. General Gladwell
: So that's what you kids are calling it these days.
- As she mentions later to Banner, she really did date Hercules.
- Used in an issue of Nova during the Annihilation: Conquest crossover:
Phalanx: Query, select Gamora: Have you had operational knowledge of this threat?
Gamora: "Operational knowledge"? I've never heard it called that before. Yes, I've had operational knowledge of Richard Rider.
- In Foundations Harry's colleagues demand that he tells them how his lunch with Draco and Narcissa Malfoy went. When Harry says "Well... Draco's peacock bit me", Cecile wants to know if that's a euphemism. It's not.
- Are You There God? It's me, Canada has Arthur asking Francis for "help levelling the dresser in the bedroom".
- In One Thing Leads to Another, BB says : "Sure you 'talked'. Is that what the kids are calling it these days?" after Robin tells him he and Starfire "had a long talk last night" to resolve an argument that was really hurting the entire team. Of course, Beast Boy, due to his animal senses, is fully aware what this "talk" involved.
- Naruto: Asunder
Jiraiya: (walks by eating ramen and sees Naruto and Hinata in bed) "Nice kid."
Naruto: "Ero-Sennin! What are you doing here?! And why are eating my ramen?! I only share my ramen with Hinata-chan!"
Jiraiya: (quietly giving them a once over) "So, that's what you wanna call it?"
Films — Live-Action
- In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, when Auntie Entity's majordomo tells Max he's got nothing to trade, Max insists that he's got skills they can use. To this, he rather dryly replies "The brothels are full."
- In body-swap comedy It's a Boy Girl Thing Woody (Nell's personality in Woody's body, actually) comes downstairs after studying with Nell (Woody in disguise). His father asks him how things with Nell have been going to which he replies "we were studying." The father then merrily applies the trope: "so that's what you call it these days."
- Last Man Standing (1996).
: "Strazzi said he had brought the girl along to keep up his morale. That's the first time I had ever heard it called that."
- The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain: Morgan the Goat claims Betty is "advising me on the refurbishment of my establishment". His girlfriend/mistress replies "Refurbishing your establishment? I've never heard it called that before."
- Nick from Push does a non-sexual version of this when Cassie uses the term "second-generation mover" to describe Nick. He quips "Is that what they're calling it these days?" This is more because he's a smartass than anything else.
- In the film made of the Stephen King short story Umney's Last Case, a 1930's private eye swaps places with the modern day author who created him. He opens the door to find a girl with an uncanny resemblance to his Sassy Secretary from the past, dressed in a halter top and shorts, saying she's here to clean his pool. Naturally this leads to a "Is that what they're calling it now?" line.
- Subverted in Who Framed Roger Rabbit with the infamous "Patty Cake". While we are lead to believe that "Patty Cake" is referencing a slightly less innocent act, it turns out that they really are just playing patty cake. It's actually double subverted: a patty cake game is the toon equivalent of sex.
- Stand by Me:
Teddy: Look, you guys can go around if you want to; I'm crossing here. And while you guys are dragging your candy asses half way across the state and back, I'll be waiting for you on the other side, relaxing with my thoughts.
Gordie: Do you use your left hand or your right hand for that?
- Candy Stripe Nurses:
Head Nurse: Looks like your friend Billy is bored again.
Sandy: Billy? Poor kid. I'll see what he wants.
- In their next scene, Sandy's naked and is sitting up on his bed with the bedsheets pulled up to her stomach.
Billy: And they try to tell me hospital service was deteriorating?
Sandy: Well it helps if you know the right people.
- Moshe Dayan, former Israeli Chief of Staff and later Minister of Defence, was notorious for his womanising. One joke tells of how he came home late once, and his wife asked him where he’d been; he replied, ‘Diyunim, diyunim...’note . His wife says, ‘OK, next time, come home badman.’note
- Perhaps the Ur Example of this trope comes from Boccaccio's Decameron (Day 3, Story 10)—one of the most outrageously dirty things ever put in print. So much so that it wasn't even translated into English until the late 19th century—Edward Gibbon refused to translate it in his version, saying it was too 'smutty'.
- The actual expression, for those who won't click the link, is "putting the Devil in Hell."
- Used in the last book in the Midnighters series by the resident Smart Guy.
- In the Newsflesh novel Blackout, Georgia II uses this trope as a snappy comeback.
: You've been sleeping
for some time. Georgia II
: Is that what the kids are calling it these days?
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones: King Renly Baratheon tells Brienne of Tarth that he will "pray alone" in his tent. In his next scene, Renly is making out with Ser Loras Tyrell, his "object of worship," so to speak.
- Olyvar says to Loras, "I should like to see you spar with a proper partner, ser." They end up "sparring" in Loras' bed shortly afterwards.
- From Burn Notice, the hero's best friend is commenting on the wisdom of the hero's choosing his (admittedly very well-trained and well-armed) ex-girlfriend for backup.
Sam: You sure this is a good idea, you hookin' up with her again?
Mike: I'm not hooking up with her. That's not what's happening. I need her for tactical support.
Sam: [chuckling] Is that what they're calling it these days? Tactical support?
- The end of LOST season 2, with the whole "got caught in a net" thing: following weeks of UST between them, Jack and Kate go out on a mission and spend a night in a jungle, being caught in a net among other things. When Sawyer asks what they were doing out there, all he gets is "got caught in a net" reply and mistakes it for sex euphemism. For the several following episodes he sarcastically refers to sex as "caught in the net", until the "A-Team" goes on another mission, where he sees another net trap in a jungle and realizes there was no double meaning after all.
- In the Torchwood episode "From Out Of The Rain",:
Jack:I need [Ianto's] local expertise.
Gwen: Oh, is that what you're calling it now?
- And while we're talking about Captain Jack, there's a running gag regarding the use of the word "dancing" in the Doctor Who ep, "The Doctor Dances".
Relax. He's a fifty-first century guy. He's just a bit more flexible when it comes to 'dancing'. Rose:
How flexible? Doctor:
Well, by his time, you lot are spread out across half the galaxy. Rose:
Meaning? Doctor: So many species, so little time
What, that's what we do when we get out there? That's our mission? We seek new life and.. and... Doctor: [nodding]
Tenth Doctor: What are you doing here? I'm busy!
Eleventh Doctor: Busy? Is that what we're calling it, hey? Look, what you get up to in the privacy of your own regeneration is your business.
Tenth Doctor: One of them is a Zygon.
Eleventh Doctor: Ewww. I'm not judging you.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Used by Olivia Benson to sweat a perp.
Olivia: Exactly how close were you two?
Lauren Cooper: He was like a father to me!
Olivia: Oh, is that what they're calling it now?
- To which Lauren Cooper replied, "Are you disrespecting my family?"
- An episode of Black Adder had the following:
Percy: I touched her once.
Blackadder: You touched her what?
Percy: Her, once, in the corridor.
Blackadder: I've never heard it called that before.
- 30 Rock:
Jack: When I was your age, I was putting myself through college in Boston, paddling swan boats for the tourists.
Kenneth: Is that a euphemism for some kind of sex worker?
- Arrested Development
- In an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will and Carlton went to a clinic to pick up some reference material for Ashley, who was slamming headfirst into puberty at the time. As the doctor goes to help them, Will and Carlton try to "cover" by loudly announcing that they were looking for material for a book report and checking the building for asbestos, respectively. The doctor later turns to Carlton and says: "Asbestos? Last time I heard, it was called Knockin' Boots!"
- Not to mention Will's assurance to Carlton that he "won't always be a...German."
- Firefly had one of these, when Mal wakes up a naked, hibernating River in the first episode (played for drama instead of comedy, as a justifiably angry Mal thought Simon was involved in human trafficking):
: I need to check her vitals! Mal
: Oh, is that what you call it?
- In the Bones funeral episode:
Widow: And exactly how many times a week did you respect him?
- When Richie claims in Bottom that 'my grandfather was a trawlerman you know?' Eddie's reply is 'Oh so that's what they called them in those days was it?'.
- A kind of... double inversion (as he's both younger than her, and the one trying to be euphemistic):
Young Ethan: I should probably tell you, I'm not a... uh, that is to say I don't... I've never...
Monica: Are you a virgin?
Young Ethan: Well, if that's what you kids are calling it these days, then yes I am!
- In the episode "The One with All the Resolutions", when Monica and Chandler have a secret relationship:
Monica: I'll just tell Rachel I'm gonna be doing laundry for a couple of hours.
Chandler: Laundry. Huh. Is that my new nickname?
- There was also the flashback episode to when Joey moves in with Chandler, time during which Monica had a crush on Joey. Monica invites him over to drink some lemonade, and while she's distracted serving it, Joey starts stripping:
Monica: (turning around) Okay, here’s your... penis! Oh my God! What the hell are you doing?!
Joey: You said, you wanna come in for some lemonade?
Joey: Whoa, ah! Were you just gonna give me some lemonade?
Monica: Yeah huh! Cover yourself up!
Joey: Oh right, right.
Monica: I don't believe this! When someone asks you in for lemonade, and to you that means they wanna have sex?
Joey: Well usually... yeah! Well, not just lemonade, iced tea, sometimes juice.
- A non-sexual example from Angel:
- One memorable non-sexual example from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an exchange between Sara and Marjorie Wescott, a defense lawyer, after Sara is asked about a previous case where she had been seen touching him in a 'romantic gesture':
Sara: I brushed chalk from his face.
Marjorie: Oh, is that what they're calling it now?
- Let it be known that, in the aformentioned episode, there was no chalk on his face. Really.
- Interesting example in the Smallville Season 4 episode "Spell," when Jonathan finds a stray bra under the hay in the loft, and Clark blurts out that "it was magic," followed by a sarcastic "I'm sure it was" from Martha. While Lana, Chloe and Lois (under the control of three ancient French witches...and yes, it makes slightly more sense in context) did use sorcery to brainwash the guests at Chloe's birthday party, it was an underwear party, and there was at least one other couple Clark bumped into the next morning who had to bolt with clothes in hand. So the example is both played straight (it really was magic) and subverted (but there was probably lots of sex too, just not directly involving Clark).
- In The Young Ones, Vivian lets out a highly articulate outburst with his raging hatred for The Good Life. Neil's father stands up for it, specifically star Felicity Kendall, adding "...and I want to protect her!" Vivian snorts "Well, it's the first time I've ever heard it called THAT!"
- Not quite exact to the trope definition, but series 2 of Robin Hood does include a conversation among the outlaws about euphemisms for couples hooking up.
Robin: Where's Will and Djaq?
Much: They said they were going to get some honey.
John: They'll be back soon.
Much: If that's what they've gone for. But why does it need two of them, hm? Honey is one of those things.
- Inversion from The Kids in the Hall
Woman: I can't believe I fell for that line.
Darril: What line?
Woman: You know! "Would you like to look at my etchings?"
Darril: [gestures towards wall of etchings] So you don't want to see them?
- MythBusters: Used jokingly by Adam in the very first (non-pilot) episode, while making a bullet out of flash-frozen hamburger.
Jamie: "What did you do today, honey?"
Adam: I made a meat bullet. "Is that what the kids are calling it these days?"
- Kind of inverted.
Dr. Kelso: Last week I was in the mall hanging out at Brookstones when some kid asked me if I was lost.
J.D.: Brookstone. Looking for gadgets, sir?
Dr. Kelso: If that's what you call trolling for mall ass, sure.
- And played straight in this exchange:
Paul: ...and, I know you wanted me to come in to... you know...
Elliot: Oh, no no no! I invited you in to see my... fish tank.
The Todd: Is that what you ladies are calling it nowadays?
Paul: Careful, Todd.
- And again when Dr. Cox denies sleeping with his ex, saying that they went into an empty patient's room to "talk". Carla asks if that's what the kids are calling it now and informs him that the room really wasn't empty.
- Jordan kinda gave it away by saying he "Shouldn't talk so fast." and "Maybe I could finish a sentence."
- In the MST 3 K Spin-Off, Cinematic Titanic, in Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks:
Some Guy: Alright, let's take her in for an Autopsy.
Joel: Oh, is that what they're calling it now..
- Leverage, "The Double Blind Job":
Hardison: Li'l Jennifer Pearson's wearing you out, ain't she?
Elliot: Dude, we walked the Freedom Trail twice.
Elliot: No, man, the actual Freedom Trail. We took paddle boats to the public gardens, shopped on Newbury Street, and went to something called the Boston Duck Tour.
- In The George Lopez Show, Carmen tells George that she did "half pipes" with her boyfriend. George assumes she is talking about drugs. She was talking about skateboarding.
- On one episode of The Love Boat, Gopher and a woman are in a cabin, chasing after a spider and trying to squash it with their shoes. When Doc opens the door to see what all the ruckus is about, Gopher innocently comments, "We're killing spiders." As Doc leaves, he mutters, "I've heard it called a lot of things, but never that."
- Top Gear had this gem.
- The line is used in Family Matters when Karl's wife and sister-in-law catch him with a woman at a Love Hotel, and he claims they're working. He's telling the truth: the woman is a fellow police officer, and they're meeting some crooks at that hotel room as part of a sting operation.
- A variant is used in an episode of Eureka: Trevor tells Jack that he just went out on a date with Allison. Jack tells Trevor that he's merely "a distraction".. Trevor asks if that's what the kids are calling boyfriends these days.
- The Listener (right after Toby has been teasing Oz about how all he thinks about is his new girlfriend):
Oz: Look, if I do Ryder a favor or two, he could help me switch some shifts and I can sync up with Sandy's schedule.
Toby: Is that what it's called nowadays?
- On Love Connection Brad Kamanski and Beate Gold describe their spending the night on Brad's father's boat:
Chuck Woolery Where'd you sleep the second night?
Brad On the boat.
Chuck Oh? Get much sleep the second night?
Beate Ahem, no.
Brad No, not really.
Chuck Those waves going, keeping you up all night?
Beate It was nice.
Chuck Birds going over you?
Beate Oh yeah! Seagulls.
- On another episode, contestant Andrea Trower said "We were kissing on the couch, and William asked if he could see the dress that I'll be wearing on the show. He came into the bedroom and clothes wound up on the floor".
- On The Borgias, Rodrigo gives his mistress Giulia a lesson in politics by comparing her calf to Naples, her knee to Rome, and her, er, "source of disquiet" as France. The scene ends with his mouth working its way up and his comment that he "intends to invade France". Yowza.
- On Frasier, when Martin introduces his physical therapist Daphne to his sister-in-law Zora, this is her exact reaction.
- Castle had one of these when Beckett and Castle had hickey-like marks left on their necks by injectors. The following exchange occurred:
Come on, what were you really
It's not a hickey, Esposito. Castle I wish it was.
It was left by the injectors. Esposito
Injectors? Is that what they're calling it now? Ryan
Hey guys. Are those hickeys? Esposito
I wish. [beat] Ryan
- In "The Late Shaft", actress Ellie Monroe calls Rick up after Bobby Mann is murdered. Rick tells Beckett that she thought he might like to get together for some 'comforting'. Beckett responds:
"Comforting?" Is that what the cool kids call it these days?
- On Hudson Street, Tony was excited about meeting his favourite footballer and getting him to autograph a ball. He said something along the lines of "I can't wait to get his John Hancock on my pigskin", causing one of his co-workers to remark "I hope that's not a euphemism".
- On Dinosaurs, Charlene is dumped by her boyfriend, and this is Earl's reaction to the news.
- Wild Boys: Emilia gets one when she discovers her boyfriend Conrad strolling back from the bush with a buxom Farmer's Daughter:
"We've just been milking the goats."
"I'll bet you have!"
- Used, albeit not with the exact phrasing on The Goodies:
American Officer: Well, I'll be hornswoggled!
Graeme: Your personal life is no concern of ours.
- Morecambe And Wise:
- Quite a few examples.
Frank Finlay: I have a long felt want.
Eric Morecambe: ...There's no answer to that.
- Some funnier than others.
Ernie Wise: Have you got the maracas?
Eric Morecambe: No, it's the way I walk.
- Some stretching it.
Ernie Wise: My auntie's got a Whistler.
Eric Morecambe: Now there's a novelty.
- And some not.
: A director rang from Hollywood...'Alfred' something. Ernie Wise
: Hitchcock? Eric Morecambe
: He might have, I didn't ask.
- Grey's Anatomy
Owen: She just wants to strategise.
Cristina: At three AM? I bet she does.
- An example in How I Met Your Mother arises not out of snarkery but a genuine misinterpretation/hopefulness on the part of Casanova Wannabe Barney. It was actually a Literal Metaphor (or rather, not any sort of metaphor at all).
"You invited me up to your apartment to 'play Battleship.' Is that not an internationally recognized term for sex?"
- Another instance is "I'm going to this girl's house and we're going to make juice," to which the cab driver responds "Nice."
- In the "Stephanie Plays the Field" episode of Full House, Joey tells Michelle that Jesse and Becky are "just doing their taxes" while the two are having hot, steamy sex behind a locked door.
- On Passions, Charity tells Grace about the hunks she hooked up with at the Ski Lodge Club after they drive her home:
Charity Bye guys. Check you later.
Grace Charity, who were those people?
Charity Tom, Dick, Harry. I don't know really. But it sure beats walking home from the the ski lodge so...
Grace You can't accept a ride from strangers.
Charity Well, got to know each other a lot better on the way home.
- "Horizontal Bop" by Bob Seger
- "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper
- "Downtown" by Lady Antebellum is an ode to cunnilingus.
- The Greaseman calls sexual intercourse "Hobble-de-ge" and oral sex "Gobble-de-ge".
- During the Comedy Of Errors spectacular "Lend Me a Tenor":
Tito: I know why you're here.
Maggie: You do, do you?
Tito: Yes-you want my autograph.
Maggie: Oh, is that what they call it in Italian?
- In Lady in the Dark, Charley insinuates that "color plates" might be the new "etchings":
Russell: Maggie—either Alison leaves the magazine or I do. This is the end—the absolute end.
Maggie: Now, Russell...
Russell: I meant it. She's just calmly loaned my color plates to a friend until Wednesday.
Charley: Say, that's kind of new... "I'd like you to come up to the apartment and see my color plates."
Russell: Oh, don't be so Goddamn bright, Johnson—you sicken me.
- In The Diary of Anne Frank, after Anne goes to visit Peter in his room:
Mrs. van Daan: In my day it was the boys who called on the girls. Not the girls on the boys.
Mrs. Frank: You know how young people like to feel that they have secrets. Peter’s room is the only place where they can talk.
Mrs. van Daan: Talk! That’s not what they called it when I was young.
- From Grey Gardens The Musical:
Edith: You're my soul mate, that's what you are.
Gould: "Soul mate," is that the nom du jour?
- "Fighting" in DMFA 's Fic Within A Webcomic, in a "Sure, let's go with that" variant.
- Subverted in the webcomic Elf Life: Filis was fond of referring to "frolicking" with Baughb, the main character When asked by another character why she was constantly using that euphemism, she angrily replies that she meant "frolicking" and if she meant to say "f*** ing" (censored in panel), she'd have said "f*** ing".
- In Girl Genius, a pair of background characters are said to be in the woods "hunting mushrooms" by a naive young guard, prompting this sort of response from his sergeant.
- Sinfest: Inspiration.
- The Noob has an affair with the queen and Ohforf's "nose" in this strip. (The actual nose he is referring to can be seen here.)
- In The Whiteboard, Pirta says this to Jake.
- The Order of the Stick
- Elan's father interprets one of Elan's statements as this. Elan has absolutely no idea how Tarquin interpreted it. Elan genuinely wanted him to think they were bathing an orang-utan.
- Hilariously subverted later, when they need to get away from him for a minute.
Elan: Uh, Dad? Haley and I need to...go have sex.
Tarquin: Well, you'll miss the big fight, but you do what you need to do.
Haley: Come on, V. And bring the cat, just in case.
- Three Panel Soul has one.
- Questionable Content:
- A non-sexual version in Impure Blood: when Elnor blames her pounding head on the jostling from their journey, Roan asks if that's what they call the ale in the last town.
- The Non-Adventures of Wonderella — about being petrified by the Medusa:
- Unshelved: "'Compared notes'?" "That's not what we called it my day."
- Schlock Mercenary had a Mad Scientist "doing applied research".
- This Basic Instructions - "playing his trombone" not being a euphemism in this case.
- A variation occurs in the Sponge Bob Square Pants episode "Something Smells". After getting bad breath, Spongebob is led by Patrick to believe that he's ugly, and decides to admit it by shouting "I'm ugly and I'm proud!" repeatedly on the rooftop of his pineapple.
Squidward: (overhearing while tanning) Is that what he calls it?
- In Transformers: Beast Wars, Silverbolt returns from a scouting run, in which he actually met with his still-evil lover Blackarachnia. Rattrap asks him, "Find any new positions?"
- Murdoc Niccals of Gorillaz mentioned in a radio interview that his bandmate Russel had mentioned he'd been "living in Ike Turner's basement" and Murdoc had assumed it was an Unusual Euphemism. Turns out Russel had, in fact, been living in Ike Turner's basement.
- The Penguins of Madagascar: "Of course, it is, er, unwise that we two should 'kaboom together' ever again."
- Archer is sent to Miami to seduce a male Cuban spy, and gets coached how by a gay couple. After he's been at a cockfighting venue:
Charles: Then where were you all night?
Archer: Way the Christ out in the Everglades burying some Dominican guy's rooster!
Rudy: Fun! Wha— Oh, you mean literally.
- King of the Hill: John Redcorn uses his day job as a massage therapist to score women; thus, "migrane treatments" becomes a synonym for his flings with Nancy Gribble.