Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Which Way is Exxor?

You learn something new every day.

Monday of this week was a pedallogically day for my son. Knowing the next day was a pedalillogically day, Tristan stayed up later than usual Sunday night. Not surprisingly, he seemed on the groggy side the next morning as we rode the train into the city for his annual medical check-up. The train left our hometown at 10 o'clock in the morning!

Give me a break!

After the fifth time he generously showcased his gaping piehole, I politely suggested he cover his mouth when he yawns. We hadn't even left the station yet! I told him covering your mouth when you yawn is the polite thing to do. I also told him that by seeing who covers their mouth when they yawn and who doesn't, I can instantly differentiate between the classless bumpkins I refer to as "wal-mart oxen" and people of slightly more sophisticated breeding. I assure you, this detection method is virtually foolproof!

I also told him that by covering your mouth when you yawn, you thoughtfully eliminate the possibilty of accidentally spitting on someone nearby. He wondered, quite reasonably, what yawning had to do with spitting. It was a can of worms I seemed, reluctantly, destined to open. Sometimes when I yawn, I explained, I notice a spray come shooting, inadvertently, from my mouth.

He was aghast and he was doubtful! I'm pretty sure he was more aghast than doubtful!

I helpfully suggested he check with his pediatrician to see whether what I was saying bore any shred of truth. He dismissed that option with an indignant snort.

I've never checked whether this happens to anyone else. Fearing I was innocently bound for freakdom, I headed for the "trusty" internet.

Oh yes, it revealed, accidental tongue pressure on the sublingual gland can cause saliva to spray from the mouth. This is called gleeking.


Now there's a word well-suited to pedalgothically day!

I thought "gleeks" were exclusively "Glee" geeks. Alas, no. "Gleeking" occurs when an accumulation of saliva in the submandibular gland is propelled outward in a stream when the gland is compressed by the tongue! Many people experience unintentional bouts of gleeking when they yawn deeply or consume hard candy or other tart, spicy foods which stimulate the salivary glands.

How fascinating! I yearn to know more and make up your mind; is it the sublingual or submandibular gland, or both?

The "trusty" internet went on to explain, in the most empirical of terms, the word "gleeking" comes from  the 70's superhero cartoon series, "Spaceghost",  which I used to watch. The space monkey character, Gleek, who came from the planet Exxor, would often spit from under his tongue. Strangely and perhaps understandably, that part of "Spaceghost" seems to have escaped my memory!

Sitting in the newsroom today, I kept wondering whether I would find "gleeking" in my "far more trusty" edition of Merriam Websters Collegiate Dictionary. I'm home now and, on page 495, the word "gleek" is there, which, while handy to remember for scrabble purposes, did little to support my internet discoveries. The dictionary says the word "gleek", origin unknown, means gibe, or joke.

Hang on here, I just checked the year; this is a 1993 dictionary. Perhaps my dictionary is simply behind the times. Let me check Merriam Webster on-line.

I'm back. The on-line definition is the same as the book definition, intransitive verb; gibe, joke.

Now what? Here I am, a self-confessed occasional gleeker, who always covers his mouth when he yawns. It's just one of those smart habits, like using your blinkers when you drive! Acquire these smart habits and rote will automatically provide when you need them most!

The implications of gleeking could rock my world! Wow! I'm going to have to keep a little umbrella in a holster on  my hip, so that when wal-mart oxen yawn in my face, I can whip out the umbrella, pop it open and avoid being doused with unwanted submandibular excretions.

Either that, or move to Exxor.

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