Doing last night’s dishes this morning, I remembered a couple of nights ago when Dot was washing up, in her feeble state, having been unwell (or perhaps it was the night before she was unwell and she was starting to feel poorly -it’s not important), and she was determined to finish the dishes and not leave the pot lids, frying pan and sauce pans undone. She is, you see, an ‘abinger’ or “One who washes up everything except the frying pan, the cheese grater and the saucepan which the chocolate sauce has been made in” (from Douglas Adams’ The Meaning of Liff). She always has been, though on this occasion she was trying to overcome her nature, because I embarrassed her one day by naming it. Somehow giving it a name made it real.
Another example. In bright sunlight I cannot prevent myself from sneezing. I thought this was pretty common, but my flatmate in Philadelphia, Laura, refused to believe me and said I must be misinterpreting a coincidence or imagining it. But then I told her that my flatmate in Auckland had said English speakers in Brunei call them ‘sun sneezes’ and at that she let it drop. Again the lesson seems to be that a name makes it real.
So what a happy thing it is, then, that Laura today graduates and henceforth is Dr Odom. Congratulations! Dr Odom.