My husband sells crap at a flea market on Sundays. From the construction of this first sentence, you might think that he sells something other than crap on the rest of the days of the week. I assure you that this is not the case. He simply gathers crap from Monday to Saturday.
In spite of the crap, I love hearing his flea market stories, whether they’re about two vendors who got into a fistfight or about the woman who tried to bargain over an item that was priced at a quarter. If you spend even thirty minutes at a flea market, you can see the spectrum of humanity, from the still-drunk homeless guy to the semi-retired, about-to-get-drunk art history professor.
Just as most people look like stereotypes from afar, so did these two young guys. I listened as my husband described to me their worn dreadlocks, their fair trade hoodies, and the day-old smell of marijuana.
One of them picked up the Holy Toast off my husband’s table. It was priced at ten dollars, but he would have taken eight. Maybe.
“Dude!” Dreadlock Guy said to my husband as he examined a plastic picture of Virgin Mary that you could stamp into your toast every morning. “Dude,” he repeated. “There’s a word for this. It’s called pareidolia.”
My husband smiled, or at least I like to imagine he did. “What does that mean?” he asked.
“It’s a psychological term,” Dreadlock Guy answered, handing the holy toast to his sidekick. “It means finding patterns and faces in things, like in the shapes of clouds.”
“Yeah, Dude,” Sidekick said. “It’s a great word. It’s evolutionary. It, like, came from when we had to look for predators in the trees.”
My husband got Dreadlock Guy to spell it.
“Now I’ve got a word for you,” my husband said.
Sidekick put the Holy Toast back on the table.
“My wife’s an English teacher. She teaches Junior High students and adds this word to their vocabulary lists to wake them up. It’s called callipygian.”
Dreadlock Guy and Sidekick waited.
My husband continued. “It means having nicely shaped buttocks.”
“Junior High boys would totally start listening if they learned that word.”
“Thanks, guys,” my husband said. “You made my day.”
“No, Dude. You totally made ours,” Dreadlock Boy said as they wandered away.
Have you misjudged anyone lately? Learned any new words?
Seen a callipygian? Experienced pareidolia?