Lobby lice, bathroom berthas, and more fun with words


If you love words, you'd love Verbatim, a quarterly magazine on language where you'll find explications of such things as lobby lice and bathroom berthas. What, you hadn't heard of those either? In an item on hotel slang of the 1950s, I found out that lobby lice are similar to lounge lizards, only they hang out in the lobby, natch. Bathroom berthas are trickier: Seems there are some folks who, upon entering their room for the first time, run for the head to head off having to tip the bellhop. That's just nasty.

Other highlights of this issue that I just feel compelled to share:

* There's a book called Word Fugitives, which hangs labels on those situations for which there has to be a word, but usually isn't. Some examples:

Pandephonium: When a cell phone rings and everyone jumps to see if it's theirs or not.

Afterism: That great retort you think of after the person you want to retort to has left the room.

The author, Barbara Wallraff of Atlantic Monthly, also has an online interactive column that's worth checking out if you like this sort of thing.

* Another book reviewed in this issue of Verbatim is, Viva la Repartee. It has real comebacks, including this one from Prince Rainier III who, when asked while on a tour of the Houston Astrodome if he'd like something similar in Monaco, said, "Marvelous. Then we could be the world's only indoor country."

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