When I was in high school, I was part of a chemistry demonstration team. We would go to the local elementary schools and do fun, whiz-bang kinds of “experiments” for the students to get them interested in science and create the impression that chemistry was exciting. One of mine was swirling a few clear solutions in a glass bottle, which then (as if by magic! but really it’s science!) suddenly gets coated with a mirror-like silver lining. I was also the MC for our little shows.
I’m just going to pause for a moment to let you sit in awe of how cool I must have been in high school.
Anyhow, the kids always seemed to think that the shows were a gas, and so the chemistry teacher who started the whole program signed us up to put one on at the state teacher’s convention a few hours away from my hometown. And so we went and put on our little show, which was (if memory serves) well-received, and then we drove home. It was a fun day.
On the trip back, one of my fellow nerds taught me a memory game. It consists of a numbered sequence of items, increasing in length and silliness as the numbers get higher.
One hen, two ducks, three squawking geese…
And ends with:
Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.
I am really good at memory games, and I had the whole thing memorized perfectly in short order. (See above re: my coolness.)
Fast forward to the present. The Better Half and I like to take walks with the kiddos, and we took a particularly long one the other day. He heard me muttering to myself as we went along (a habit of mine, I’m afraid), and asked what I was muttering about. Turns out the memory game described above had popped into my head, and I was running through it to see if I could still remember the whole thing. Which I could, and promptly taught to the Better Half.
However, I was curious as to where it came from in the first place. Voilà, the iPhone. A few scant seconds after typing “One hen, two ducks” into the search bar, I learned that the whole thing is called the “Announcer’s test.” Apparently it originated as a cold reading test of diction for prospective radio talent, and was popularized by Jerry Lewis. The version I remembered is almost exactly the same as what I found on Wikipedia.
And there it was, the origins of this little artifact that I’ve carried around in my brain for twenty years.
So that’s this week’s Question — are there any little bits of varia that you’ve picked up in your life that you don’t (or didn’t) know where they came from or what they mean? Any snippets or songs or symbols? If so, did you ever discover where they came from?