Jun 162010

Coming out of the grocery store yesterday I was behind a nicely-dressed (and here I mean “businessy”) guy carrying flowers. This was a little unusual since I do my grocing* in the middle of the day, when it’s mostly soccer moms, retirees, and people like me at the store. Even more unusual was the slight smell of wood smoke I noticed as I followed him out the door. At first I thought it was some sort of cologne he was wearing, but once we were outside I decided the smell was coming from somewhere else.

But I liked it. I thought “campfire” would make a good cologne (maybe you would put it on after using the Shower Hammer), though I don’t wear cologne (or body spray, or manfume, or whatever it is they’re calling it these days). When i got home, I went looking to see if there already is such a cologne and found several people asking after one. None exist, as far as I can tell, but several people suggested that you could just buy some liquid smoke at the grocery store and rub it on yourself. I’ll try that out and let you know.

In the course of my research I read this articleat one of those awful content farms that are cluttering up the universe with useless twaddle. After the typo in the title (“The Five Best Smelling Cologne For Men”), the funniest part of this was the author’s explanation of why she is qualified to offer advice on cologne:

Because I once had the unusual job of “wig namer” , (giving an appropriate name to each packaged wig style) I felt I would be the perfect person to suggest modern, clean smelling colognes for men. Also, I can say I have purchased all of these scents for my husband.

The thing is, I feel like I can almost just sort of see how that conclusion seemed logical in her head. Maybe with another sentence or two she could have convinced me. Something about applying arbitrary names to things, maybe? But you’d hope that her scent descriptions are better than arbitrary.

Bonus logic failure: I can say I have purchased all of these scents for my husband, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.


I always think that groce should be a verb for going to the grocery store, like market is in some places (so “I do my grocing…”). I went and looked it up just now to make sure it hasn’t become common since the last time I checked (once again, I had a first lookup at Wordnik—hooray for me!), and while there are a few people using grocing as I have here, it’s far more commonly found as a misspelling for grossing (e.g., “those toes were grocing me out”). This seems like a very strange mistake to make, since there’s no such word as grocing, so it’s not like you’re just picking the wrong homophone. Nor does grocing look like a more logical spelling than “grossing,” or even look reasonable in any way at all.

Lest you worry that grocing could lead to confusion as to whether it refers to the action of the shopper or of the grocer, Gilbert Ryle explains in The Concept of Mind why grocers cannot groce:

Some dispositional words are highly generic or determinable, while others are highly specific or determinate; the verbs with which we report the different exercises of generic tendencies, capacities and liabilities are apt to differ from the verbs with which we name the dispositions, while the episodic verbs corresponding to the highly specific dispositional verbs are apt to be the same. A baker can be baking now, but a grocer is not described as ‘grocing’ now, but only as selling sugar now, or weighing tea now, or wrapping up butter now…With qualms we will speak of a doctor as engaged now in doctoring someone, though not of a solicitor as now solicitoring, but only as now drafting a will, or now defending a client. (p.118)

(Well, this was written in 1949, and I think lawyers do a fair amount of lawyering now, but still….)

I was interested to discover that grocer is related to gross: a grocer was originally “One who buys and sells in the gross, i.e. in large quantities” (OED). As for the adjective gross (disgusting), The Word Detective explains how gross expanded its meaning from “bulky” to “coarse” to “repulsive.”

Wordnik includes recent uses of a word pulled from twitter, which sometimes leads to interesting discoveries (but more often to a sense of wonder at the personal details people like to share with the world). In this case whilst looking up grocer I learned some new slang to make me sound cool and young: “the ish,” which apparently means “the shit”:

the ish

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