None of this has anything to do with being an expat.
File all this under "If you can't say anything nice . . . then come sit right here next to me."
I love the idea of having a stock phrase you can use when you have been discussing something catty or gossipy or otherwise inappropriate and need to suddenly appear to be talking about something mundane.
The Spouse and I have long relied on switching, mid-sentence if necessary, to " . . . and what's left over is butter."
As in, he and I are discussing something and a third person walks into hearing range and we need to appear as if we were not previously talking about them.
The scenario: a business cocktail reception.
Me: "I dunno. I think it's a toupee."
Him: "It IS a toupee, it is a BAD toupee, and every time I see him I want to snatch it off his head . . ."
Enter the toupee-wearer.
Him: " . . . and what's left over is butter."
Today, I was in a car with my mother, one daughter, and one of my nieces. I overhear Niece say, "That's what my feet smell like."
I think I have an alternative to the butter-phrase.
Next topic: Fun With Fortune Cookies.
It's always much more interesting to read one's fortune aloud and then add the words "between the sheets."
For example, Skittles got this fortune tonight: "Great things happen when men and mountains meet . . . between the sheets."
But mine was even better.
I got the following fortune: "A small act of charity will go a long way."
Between the sheets.