A couple of weeks ago, my favorite online cultural archive ran a piece on “20 Foreign Words That You Never Knew You Needed.” True to its word, it did had a number of words I never knew I needed. It baffled me that the English language despite its advancing years had failed to come up for the word of the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees (Komorebi-Japanese) or the feeling after a conversation when you think of all the things you should have said (l’espirit de ‘escalier- French). Is the English language, as Orwell predicted, “in a bad way?”* Not one to be a pessimist about my native language. I take comfort that my best friend Steph and I have been undoubtedly proactive in making up for the inadequacies of the English language. It may not be intentional but over the course of our six years friendship we have come up a number of words to describe such indescribable phenomena.
The most important being the:
Ginger Effect: (n.) when two people experience an event and share two absurdly different interpretations of the details, and compromise.
The Ginger Effect was born on a cold mid-february Night. We had just finished a night out with the boys, celebrating the arrival of my best friend Casey and the subsequent cheese party in her hour. Cheese turned into wine which turned into going to our favorite “classy” Irish pub, Dropkick Murphy’s. We had just come to the crucial time in a young postgraduates life where you must make the important decision between ordering that extra pint or heading to the nearest “chipper.” Not ever being one to turned down food, Steph and I realized that we were a mere one hundred feet from the best last night pizza joint in Edinburgh, Pizza Paradise, and a well-timed exit would insure that we could grab a slice of Hawaiian pizza for the “long” walk home. The decision was also made easier since we were approaching our dreaded second semester final essays, and our “pint” would pretty much be a pint of diet coke and three lime wedges.
Somewhere between exiting the pub and heading towards the warmth of Paradise, we were interrupted by two Irish boys. Being from Boston, which makes you predisposed to automatically love all Irish people…Celtics, anyone?), we could not be rude. So we humored our new friends from Donegal, and interrupted our journey to Pizza.
At the end of the night, as had been routine after any night out (or really, in), Steph and I ended up on the floor of my dorm room, spoons full of nutella, discussing the events of the night. Admittedly, it has been a couple of years, but I’m positive the conversation went like this:
Me: We should definitely go to Pizza Paradise tomorrow. During the day. I want their Hawaiian slice.
Steph: Sure. [Pause for Nutella] Where did those guys come from. They just appeared out of the nowhere.
Me: I know right. At least they were nice. What did you and the brunette talk about?
Steph: you mean you and the brunette.
Me: No the guy you were talking to. He was brunette.
Steph: I’m pretty sure he was blond.
Me: No, I’m positive he was brunette.
Okay the conversation probably didn’t go exactly like that. But you get the point. After a long five minute back and forth between whether Steph’s new friend had blond or brunette hair. We opted option C. He clearly must have been a “Ginger.”
The Ginger Effect can be used when two people recall different details of the same event and need to compromise for different details. Just offer the “(s)he was clearly a ginger” and all issues will be resolved. And now world peace.
Disclaimer: Full disclosure, despite the certain details of this story, Steph and I were not drunk. As finals were coming up in less than a week, we had used this night to reclaim our status as human beings, and not library decorations.
* If you have not already, read Orwell’s Politics and the English Language.
** You can read a fuller list of words here.