16 January 2005

Limerent for John Linnell ... and so many others

I just heard a piece on The Next Big Thing (www.nextbigthing.org) on soon to be lost or forgotten words. It's a continuing series where Julie Subrin assigns a writer or artist three words that are in danger of leaving dictionaries though obsolescence. Most of the words just wash over me, although I enjoy hearing famous - or at least established - writers using these words in sentences. It's like an instant trip back to 7th grade, although the writers are able to avoid the popular 7th grade construction of "simple subject - simple verb - vocabulary word - simple direct object," for example, "Leta wrote an unequivocal sentence."

So today's words included "limerent" and it's a wonderful word. Limerence is the crush stage of a relationship. It's often sexual but basically marked by total infatuation. I feel that way all the time! I don't live a life of quiet desperation, I live one of chatty limerence. I've had crushes on friends, on cast mates, on co-workers..... (all names withheld because limerent doesn't mean insane). I've even been assigned a crush by, no surprise, an actor.

I've always been susceptible to crushes and I enjoy their short-term hors d'oeuvre-like nature. They are to real relationships as canapés are to entrées. I probably wouldn't want a steady diet of the person - toffee for breakfast, toffee for lunch, toffee for tea - and by the time the crush fades, I'm ready to let go, but it's fun while it lasts. Brings some zip to my day. And just as much fun, of course, is when someone has a crush on me. "Nothing is more attractive to a man," said the Baroness, "than a woman who is in love with him." Works for me.

John Linnell of They Might Be Giants used limerant (and the other two words) in a song that he sang on the air. He says we won't be hearing it in concert any time soon because it still needs some work (making "some work" sound like "complete overhaul"). If you go to the website, you can hear the piece and the song. Some aspect of the sound on my computer isn't functioning right now, so I can't transcribe the song - the goal after all, is to get the words back into use - but maybe I can do it later. Go ye and listen.

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