`Da Vinci' decoded

If you haven't deciphered the story yet, here are 10 ways to avoid appearing clueless


You won't get away with this.

The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 40 million copies, Tom Hanks is hamming it up on the big screen as strong-jawed symbologist Robert Langdon, and yet you still can't tell a cryptex from a crypt. You're the only one in your office who hasn't read the thing, and we're on your case like a heavy-breathing albino monk.

What, you don't do riddle-riddled thrillers? Dan Brown's prose grates on you like the spiked cilice belts worn by certain religious zealots? You didn't have time to read a 454-page paperback, or to sit through the two-hour-and-20-minute movie that's opening tomorrow? Next you'll be saying that you don't have time to assemble the "amazing" 3-D plastic puzzle ball beside the book on the table at Borders (turn off the lights, and the secret code glows!)

There is one hope for you, pop cultural procrastinator, and it lies here, cunningly hidden (actually, just skip down a couple of lines and it should be pretty obvious). This is The Da Vinci Code Code, your key to faking it through any conversation that veers toward goddess iconography or corporal mortification. Our code is not written backward, or in iambic pentameter, mainly because we forget how to write in iambic pentameter. Still, read it! Cut it out, roll it up like a papyrus scroll and carry it around. This will impress people.

Invincible Da Vinci Tips for Acing Encoded Conversations

1. Don't talk. If you must contribute, scrawl your thoughts in blood (preferably your own) on your bare stomach. Invisible ink also works.

2. If you must talk, don't "say" much. Instead, in keeping with Dan Brown's ultra-dramatic dialogue style, "blurt," "demand," "whisper," "titter," "sputter" or "choke out" your commentary. If necessary, "glare with disbelief" or "give a bleak laugh" afterward.

3. Keep checking your pockets for GPS tracking dots. Trust us.

4. If you're totally confused, whisper, "It's all interconnected" or blurt "Of course! The (choose one: Atbash Cipher/ Rose Line/ Mystery of Sheshach )!"

5. Androgynous masks and golden orbs are not weird party favors. They're part of an ancient - and rather kinky - religious ceremony.

6. If your discussion occurs in a restaurant, be sure to request "a chalice of water."

7. The Fibonacci sequence is not the pasta course. It has to do with numbers.

8. If someone mutters to you, "(112) 358-1321," you haven't scored their digits. Sorry. See previous entry.

9. If you say something nonsensical, titter: "That was an anagram, clearly!" or "I guess someone's symbology isn't up to speed."

10. If someone holding a golden orb winks at you, LEAVE.


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