There Ought to Be a Word

Did you ever notice that a random thing brings a particular person to mind?

I’m not talking about physical or personality traits. We all associate certain hair colors or hair styles, a laugh, or a mannerism with particular people.

Lately though I’ve noticed that I associate certain meaningless random things with particular people in my life.

Dark gym shorts with white trim.



Plastic straws.

Pool noodles.

Painters pants.

All natural peanut butter.

Ankle bracelets (what the wearer told me was “shock repellent” until I realized in her Boston accent it was “shark repellent”)

I see these things all the time and they evoke one person in my mind. (In the case of almonds and plastic straws, it’s the same person.)

These associations only really come to mind when I have the object in view.

Is there a word for these sorts of things?



3 thoughts on “There Ought to Be a Word

  1. While I certainly agree that I associate things, places, and songs with people, these days I am finding that with strangers I am assigning them words. I was walking in the subway and saw this beautiful woman in a summer dress–the first I had seen that year. She looked like summer. I saw a guy on the bus, and all I could think was Jazz. Interesting nonetheless.

    1. I like Robert B. Parker’s habit of simply referring to random characters in his book by a physical characteristic or personality trait. I do it sometimes to save typing. IRL I don’t call people “Mayonnaise” or “Plastic Straw” though.

  2. I find smells make me think of people, places and the past. Trader Joe’s sells a taco flavored chip and when I smell them it takes me back to the summer of 1970 and going to the public pool in Eugene OR every day of the summer. I would always get a small bag of chips at a little mom and pop place on the way home. Don’t ask me what I ate yesterday lol

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