My brain does strange things with words, issuing random associations, variant pronunciations, and conjuring up catchy tunes featuring an involuntary “word of the day.” You know what the involuntary word of the day is, don’t you? It’s when a word weasels itself into your subconscious and jumps out at you unpredictably, or announces itself like a loud salesperson repeating his name at a party: “Ephemeral. It was an ephemeral but fatal fever. Quite ephemeral.” Or, “Pheromones are so ephemeral--intoxicating one moment, then gone the next--gone with the ephemeral wind.”
Usually I have a National Public Radio morning program to thank for causing these brain fritters. I coined “fritter” to describe this phenomenon because of its literal and figurative applications to my meaning:
1. To reduce or squander little by little: frittered his inheritance away. Also: “Linda frittered away precious time pondering the words ‘reasonable facsimile,’ wondering what a facsimile would have to do to be deemed unreasonable or irrational—would it have to rant and rave: ‘I’m a one-of-a-kind facsimile! I’m unique—unlike that thing you said I’m similar to!’?”
2. To break, tear, or cut into bits; shred. Ex: “Linda can actually feel her brain fritter apart when someone says, ‘I enjoy fruit; expecially if it’s ripe.’”
3. A small cake made of batter, often containing fruit, vegetables, or fish, sautéed or deep-fried. As in: “Watching C-Span or Disney's 'The Suite Life of Zack and Cody' will turn one’s brain into a deep-fried, fruity fish-cake fritter.”
Oh come on, don’t tell me you never look at a common word, like “rapport,” and think, “Suddenly, that looks odd. Rah-por? Ruh-por? Rappaport?” (pause) “General Rappaport had rapport with Rapper Po’ Boy.” Try saying that five times fast. My brain does.
The most recent brain fritter is the word “seal.” One day it just seemed to be everywhere. Heidi Klum and her singer husband “SEAL” had their second child (or pup). My daughter had four teeth SEALED at the dentist. I was singing along with Amy Grant to an old hymn with my favorite verse, “Here’s my heart/Take and SEAL it/SEAL it for thy courts above.” SEAL, SEAL, SEAL.My mother’s name is Lucille. LU-SEAL.
Sometimes the fritters work to my advantage. Today during my morning run, I decided to write about being spiritually sealed for my next column in the paper. I had been toying with the idea for a few days, but when I ran past a van with a “Save the Seals” bumper sticker, I knew the inspiration was more than ephemeral. You could say it was sealed.
*Update 7/24/06: Driving home from work yesterday, I turned on the radio, and Irwin Lutzer was in the middle of an inspirational story about someone. Imagine my surprise to find out who the subject was. Here is that story which I found on The Center for Church music site:
In stanza three, Robinson speaks of being "prone to wonder, prone to leave the God I love". This seems to be a forecast of his later life, when he lapsed into sin, unstableness and involvement with Unitarianism. There is a well-known story of Robinson, riding a stagecoach with a lady who was deeply engrossed in a hymnbook. Seeking to encourage him, she asked him what he thought of the hymn she was humming. Robinson burst into tears and said, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then." Robert Robertson, who wrote "Come Thou Found of Every Blessing," THE SEAL SONG.