I have one of those insatiably curious writers’ minds. The kind of mind that pushes me to delve into word origins and histories and every aspect of etymology. This, as you might imagine, can be quite distracting. And yes, this has led me down the merry Path of Procrastination more often than I’d like to admit.
But I get a lot of personal satisfaction, call it joy, from discovering new things about words. Not only do I get to pat myself on the back when the word is exactly the one I needed for the occasion, but I also get to amaze my friends with my new knowledge. (And that, plus $1.50, will certainly get me a semi-decent cup of coffee!
So when George Takei posted a Facebook image and suggested it was “Today’s Earworm,” I naturally had to stop everything to look up the word “earworm” to be 100% sure I knew what he was talking about.
And yes! An earworm is a piece of music that sticks in one’s mind so that one seems to hear it, even when it’s not being played. Often the music has a high, upbeat melody, repetitive lyrics, and is not only catchy, but can be quite annoying as it plays and replays inside your head. It’s also known as “stuck song syndrome,” or “involuntary musical imagery,” a much classier term.
To quote Wikipedia: One reason that this occurs is that melodic music tends to have a rhythm that repeats. This cyclical nature may cause endless repetition, unless some way to achieve a climax that breaks the cycle is found.
Fortunately, the article also says this is a common occurrence in normal life and can be easily distinguished from brain damage that results in palinacousis.
(I immediately had to look up palinacousis. “Continuing to hear a sound after the physical noise has disappeared. The condition is often associated with lesions of the temporal lobe.” Yep, since the word started with Palin, my guess was spot-on.)
Last weekend, when the word “skyrockets” was mentioned in conversation (which, by the way, could be a whole ‘nother blog about the stars, bangs, crackles and magic that happens at the apex of its ascent), my mind immediately went back to 1976 and the Starland Vocal Band’s one hit wonder, “Afternoon Delight.”
And the darn song has been stuck in my head ever since. Oh, not the whole thing, of course, just a few words here and there and the chorus continually playing around and around, over and over, time after time, just like it had good sense.
So I thought if I accessed YouTube and let the song play out until I was totally sick of it, I’d get it out of my system. No such luck, but at least now I have more of the correct words in my head to listen to!
It could be much worse, of course. I could have the Brady Bunch television theme song tripping on the loop in my head. It’s happened before, and it’s not nearly as much fun!