One minute you are talking to someone and then bam out of the blue you can’t remember the next simple word or phrase, even though it’s on the tip of your tongue, and desperately scramble to convey what you mean. Those dumbfounded moments are called brain farts.
Think of a brain fart as a massive release of stupid that results in a temporary mental lapse and failure to reason correctly. They lead to an intense feeling of embarrassment and shame compounded by an inability to explain what the heck just happened.
Common monikers for brain farts include “senior moments” — what older adults say when they walk into a room and can’t remember why — and “mommy brain” — what mothers blame when they call one of their kids by the other's name. But the truth is we all have them.
Like the time I was attempting to tell our then-4-year-old son it was time to eat in the dining room and it came out, “Your lunch is at your station. It’s at your desk. It’s at the place where you sit!”
To this day he asks me if we should sit at our stations for dinner.
Alan Dundes, a former folklorist at the University of California, Berkeley once said: “Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”
I have heard some good brain farts over the years. Our daughter used to call cauliflower “white broccoli” and the aquarium was once referred to as a “water zoo.”
When I was a youngster, a friend and I were racing our bikes down the street when all of a sudden he hit a patch of road cinders left over from the winter and wiped out. I don’t know if it was the shock from the fall or the sight of blood, but he instantaneously burst into tears, grabbed his scraped elbow and cried, “I hurt my arm knee!”
I laughed all the way to his house to get his mom and then tried not to smile as I informed her he was hurt.
Then there was the time our family was walking through the neighborhood on a particularly warm evening and our middle son complained that he was “water hungry,” which we laughingly translated to mean he was thirsty.
Usually when I get home from work my people pepper me with questions — the most common being what’s for dinner?
After one particularly long day I was in the middle of telling them a story when I completely lost my chain of thought and had a brain fart. I couldn’t figure out how to phrase what I wanted to say.
It was then, as they looked at me with questioning eyes, that I blurted out, “I use words all day. You can’t expect me to use them when I get home!”
Chanda Veno is managing editor at The State Journal. She can be emailed at email@example.com