Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's In A Name? Everything

I have a cold. Even worse, it's a common cold. I expect no sympathy for that even though my voice is basso profoundo, my nose a faucet and malaise enough to return me seventy years when the doctor made house calls with his tongue depressor,thermometer(my fever was 102, rectally speaking) and cold hands. He might have declared: sinusitis or pharyngitis or if I really wanted attention: The Grippe. No, not The Grippe but then again I had to hope I was sick enough to have gotten him out in such weather.

Where are the namers of the world? They have overlooked the sufferers of seismic sneezes and the cluster of symptoms north of the neck. Calling it a "nasty" cold has some purchase but it will never rise to the level required for a Telethon.

My father once gave me the gift of describing a milk shake as a frothy, saccharine, lacteal secretion of a graminivorous quadraped. Why say it with two words when you can use six?

Many medical terms seem to have survived only in Dickensian novels. Catarrh, (nasal discharge)is one of my favorites. Others in the scrapheap are chilbains, dropsy and apoplexy. Look them up.

So, I have a cold. Get over it! The cure for the common cold which is common enough without the adjectival diminisher, is in the hands of the lexicographer. It requires a name that confers the gravitas it warrants. Would the dreadful A.L.S. receive any grant funding if it wasn't known as Lou Gehrig Disease? FDR, we are now told, may never have had polio. All those dimes in the collection box and none went to Guillain-Barre, one of the un-sung, under-funded ills waiting for a celebrity to be stricken to get its due.

I can feel myself turning the corner. If my life were a movie the vigil of relations in the room would be breaking up. The squabbling crows outside my window are replaced by a twittering dove and a new bud just popped on the bough.

1 comment:

  1. My sainted mother the direct opposite of your gifting father, instead of using six words used just one which I now send to you.