When I was a mere boy and a beardless youth, I was an avid L.M. Boyd fan. His column out of Seattle was a collection of trivia, a simple list of odd facts. And I loved it. I found a website that has amassed a smattering of his trivial records. Here are some of my favorites:
* Mythmakers of ancient England spoke of a monster in the shape of an emaciated cow called "Chichevache" that ate nothing but faithful wives. The bit of lore eventually lost currency. Some English say it was too silly. Some Irish say the old cow starved to death.
* It's only a coincidence that "nasa" in Hebrew means "to go up."
* Makers of medieval calendars marked two days of each month as evil days. Called them the "Dies Mali." During which nothing good was supposed to happen. Their label came down as our word "dismal."
* Yes, as reported here, anthropologists know of no human society whose children do not play hide and seek. But I left something out. Other animals play the game, too. Otters do. So do young deer.
* "Preposterous" comes from Latin meaning "before and after." Originally it was supposed to convey how ridiculous it is to put something first that ought to be last. Such as a cart before a horse.
* The old Romans thought a person's health changed every seven years. They also thought a mirror reflected a person's health, good or bad. It was a twist on this combination that gave us the superstitious notion that a broken mirror foretold seven years bad luck.
* Before people gave up meat for Lent, they celebrated with a "carnival." That word stems from "carne vale" meaning "goodbye, meat."
And for my lawyer boss:
* The original "esquire" — the man, not the magazine — was a young noble apprenticed to a knight. "Esquire" was one rank below "gentleman."
Ain't that the truth.