Have you ever learned a new word, and then you notice it all the time? For instance, while doing one of many crossword puzzles with my cardiologist attending in January, I learned a three-letter verb for “mimic” is to “ape.” I’m certain I’ve read it at least three times this week in the newspaper and online.
Or another example: My Dictionary of Disagreeable English informs me that the correct idioms are “to doubt whether” and “not to doubt that.” (e.g. “I doubt whether it will rain today,” but, “I don’t doubt that he’ll be late.”) I hear people use the wrong phrase all the time now. I doubt whether they appreciate my correcting them.
More recently, after seeing a consult in the emergency room this afternoon and waiting a full thirty minutes for my oncology attending to return my call, I waited another thirty minutes or so before I remarked to a fellow resident that I’d been waiting an hour for her. I’d just commented that perhaps complaining about the wait would precipitate her arrival, when she rounded the corner into the doctors’ workstation!
And just yesterday I was trying to remember the name of a classical work by Schubert. Originally for voice, the piece has been arranged as a virtuoso composition for solo violin. The only time I’ve heard it was a year and a half ago on a Leila Josefowicz c.d.. Sadly, iTunes’ Josefowicz inventory is sparse, and I was unable to find the piece. I turned on the classical music station this evening, though, and the first thing I heard was the original vocal arrangement! I quickly navigated to that station’s homepage and was able to easily find the name of the piece that was still playing! (By the way, it’s track 11 on this c.d.)
And the last anecdote of the evening has less to do with coincidence as it does with pure, beautiful, unintentional, unadulterated pun. A physician assistant was describing to my oncology attending her situation with a difficult and less-than-honest patient who was demanding more pain medicine for her “rectal pain.” The physician assistant, a somewhat serious middle-aged woman with curly hair, stated, “I told her she’d have to see a gastroenterologist, because if she’s really having pain, we need to get to the bottom of this!”