take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I've never met anyone else who called it Pelmonism. People would look at me blankly, or with that worried look, or would edge backwards slowly and imperceptibly if I called it Pelmonism.

"Oh, you mean 'Pairs'!" some would exclaim. Maybe to them it was 'Pairs', but to me and my family, it was always 'Pelmonism'.

A simple game with a high-falutin' name, you might think. I certainly did. Get a pack of cards, shuffle, place all of them face down on the table and swirl them around. Take turns to turn two face up: if they match, you keep them; if they don't, you turn them back over again and try to remember what and where they were for next time. The idea being to collect as many pairs as you can.


I wondered for years whether it was just one of those things that our family had "made up". You know how when you're little, you think that everyone experiences the same thing as you but as you grow up, you start to realise that some things are family foibles?

The "egg man" being one example which springs to mind.

I remember, at school, discussing different community service providers. The milkman, for example, or the postman. Political correctness not having been invented yet.

When asked, by the teacher, to provide an example of another, I suggested "the egg man", to a number of stifled guffaws.

"The egg man?" the teacher enquired kindly, but with a doubtful look.

"Yes, you know, the man who delivers fresh farm eggs every week. He comes in a van. He also does vegetables and other stuff too, but we call him the egg man..." I tailed off when I noticed that everyone was looking at me strangely. Evidently, not everyone had an "egg man". In fact, nobody but me. I kept my head down and didn't mention him or his fresh farm eggs again.

On a more profound level, I remember being surprised to find that most of my friends still had both parents intact.

"You mean, your dad is still... alive? He didn't die when you were little?" I would ask, wide-eyed and fascinated.

With only my own experience of parents (or lack thereof) to go on, how was I to know that my situation was a little unusual? I soon learned to keep that particular conversation-stopper to myself - unless of course the subject came up and couldn't be avoided.

So, I wondered the other day, was Pelmonism yet another example of my projecting my own family experience onto the world at large?

With the magic of Google, I find that it wasn't just my family after all.

I feel somewhat relieved. I can call it Pelmonism with my head held high again.

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