I have bunions.
You may cringe, but I feel no shame. Occasional pain, but no shame. I have noticed when I mention my bunions, people generally react with a “Gross. Why would you admit that to me?”But here’s the thing, bunions are only swollen bone/tissue on the joint of your big toe. It’s not the warty, stinky, disgusting, contagious fungus you might expect based on the awful name “bunion.”
So this got me thinking. What other names make something sound worse than it is? Let’s consider this a working list. I’d love to hear more if you can think of some.
Before writing this, I didn’t really know what shingles was. But I knew whenever I heard someone had shingles I would make the same face people give me when I tell them I have bunions, assuming it was some disgusting disease dirty people get from sleeping on the street, with maybe some sexual transmission involved. The truth is, shingles is just a rash. And if you’ve had Chickenpox you can get Shingles. Chickenpox is somehow cute and innocent. Like a scratchy right of passage. Still shingles sounds nasty. Lice is nastier than shingles, and it rhymes with nice. Lice and shingles should switch names.
This one I have a hard time with. Your mouth has to start in a gag-like shape to
even form the word. I once got a mole removed. The dermatologist left behind a generous, 3 inch scar just so that I would be forced to use the uncomfortable, shameful word when explaining where the scar came from. Occasionally I try to get away with a friendlier word like “freckle,” but I know I’m not fooling anyone. That scar did not originate from a sweet, innocent freckle. It was from a mole. A sick mole.
Although a mole is simply a dark spot on your skin, with a name like mole, I feel dirty for having them. If they were called something else, maybe I’d like moles. Someone tried that trick already with “beauty spot.” To me, that was just an overshot. Really? A beauty spot? The name change was so drastic that people started putting a fake mole (ahem beauty spot) on their face. Granted those people have probably done a lot of things they later came to regret, but you get the point. Names matter.
I know we’ve only covered bodily words so far, but that’s where my mind is at. And ringworm is no exception. Ringworm sounds like an actual worm that your rub against too much while wrestling so it crawls into your skin and makes you its new home. And if you say the word ringworm enough times you too will catch it and start to itch. In reality ringworm is just a fungal rash in the shape of a ring. Why wouldn’t they just name it ring rash? I feel bad for all the afflicted wrestlers out there struggling to get dates because of the guy who named it ringworm.
Here is our first non-body word. Chuck-A-Rama is a buffet-style restaurant in Utah
and Idaho. No joke. I just don’t understand who in their right mind would name a restaurant Chuck-A-Rama? Chuck-A-Rama should be the official name of food poisoning.
That’s all I got so far. I really think we could add to this list. Maybe we should also create a list of things that sound much better than they are. Like restroom. It’s amazing to me that the place where fecal matter is released gets to be called a resting room, while my little bone growth has to be called a bunion.